Justin is a “jazz pianist who favors a clarity of touch and ideas, rarely spinning into an orbit he can’t control” (New York Times). After losing his sight at the age of 11, Kauflin gravitated towards jazz piano, despite having a background in classical violin. He has won top honors at jazz festivals across the U.S. and began performing professionally by age 15, most notably with the Jae Sinnett Trio.
In 2004, he received the Presidential Scholarship to attend William Paterson University in New York and while studying there, was taken under the tutelageof the legendary Clark Terry (winner of the 2010 Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz) and was invited to play in the Clark Terry Ensemble. At age 23, Kauflin produced, composed and performed on his first album, Introducing Justin Kauflin, and began regularly headlining with his trio at the jazz club Havana Nights in Virginia, where he also served as House Pianist. He continued to garner numerous awards such as the VSA International Young Soloist Award, and “Jazz Artist of the Year” in VEER Magazine.
Absolute ClayProductions chronicled Justin’s inspiring relationship with mentor, Clark Terry. Five years in the making, the documentary, Keep On Keepin’On, produced by Quincy Jones, made its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2014. Winning both Audience and Best New Documentary Director Awards, Keep On Keepin’On was released in theaters in 2014, is now available on Netflix and was shortlisted for best documentary (2015 Academy Awards). Justin was subsequently signed by producer and music icon, Quincy Jones for management, and after joining Quincy’s roster of artists, Kauflin was part of Jones’ 2013-2014 world tour, which traveled throughout Switzerland, France, Korea, Tokyo and Japan.
Throughout 2014, Justin worked with Jones on his second full-length CD and debut album for Jazz Village, DEDICATION. The CD consists of 12 original compositions, 9 of which are dedications to mentors, friends & family, and with a 3-part suite reflecting his faith. It debuted at #6 on CMJ Jazz chart, #10 on Billboard’s Traditional Jazz Chart, hit #1 on JazzWeek’s chart, and remained in the top 10 for 9 straight weeks.
With years of dedication now under his belt, Kauflin has proven himself to be an undeniably rare talent. Kauflin is now touring at international jazz clubs and festivals around the world and his trio recently finished their first successful European tour and has launched their second Dedication tour this year.