WBGO Radar

Justin Kauflin: "Dedication"

justin kauflin CD dedication cover art

Pianist Justin Kauflin grew up as the middle of five siblings in Silver Springs, Maryland. His musical life began with classical studies on violin and piano. From age six, he performed concerts, eventually becoming concertmaster for several orchestras.

Along the way, Justin also started to lose his vision, becoming totally sightless. Not to be deterred, he developed a love for jazz, eventually receiving a scholarship to study at William Paterson University, where he came under the guidance of Harold Mabern and Clark Terry.

While Kauflin was also influenced by Mulgrew Miller, Ornette Coleman and James Williams, it was his blossoming connection with Terry that is on the screen today, with the release of the documentary film "Keep On Keepin' On." This truly heart-warming tale of student and mentor also brought Justin to the attention of CT's lifelong friend Quincy Jones.

With Dedication, Kauflin shows up in trio and quartet settings, with bassist Christopher Smith, guitarists Matt Stevens and Etan Haziza and drummer Billy Williams.

Twelve original tunes with titles like "For Clark," "The Professor," "No Matter" and "Epiphany" speak volumes. They take the listener from hushed tones to tempos ablaze, showing a generous degree of skill, maturity and creativity in the spaces between the notes.

Justin Kauflin's knack for making a statement, marvelously build on it, then bring the listener home demands more than a single listen and keeps us wanting him to keep on keepin' on.

Dedication comes out January 13th on the Jazz Village label. Justin celebrates the CD release February 10th at Jazz Standard in New York.

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