An evening with Justin Kauflin

Listening to: Justin Kauflin. A Day in the Life.

Amazing evening. My friend YY invited me to join her at the Triple Door to hear Justin Kauflin, who is in town as part of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). One of the films playing at SIFF is Keep on Keepin’ On, a tribute to legendary jazz trumpeter Clark Terry. Terry mentored a number of music greats, including Miles Davis and Quincy Jones, the film’s producer. Also in the film is Kauflin, whom Terry took under his wing, and the two musicians inspired each other.

When the emcee at the Triple Door said that Jones would be introducing Kauflin, I thought it was a joke. Quincy Jones? In this relatively small Seattle music club? And then, there he was. It turns out Jones grew up in the Seattle area, and he knows the Triple Door well.

I was completely starstruck. Quincy Jones. Twenty feet in front of me, telling a story about Clark Terry before introducing Justin Kauflin. (Even Kauflin, who’s Jones’ protege, seemed amazed to be sharing the stage with Jones. It probably never gets old.)

Kauflin is 28 years-old and looks like a kid at the piano, wearing an oversized suit. He’s blind, so he came on stage accompanied by his guide dog, Candy, and told the audience not to pet her after the show, that she’ll give you her “pet me” look, but she’s working, she knows that, so resist her.

I didn’t know Kauflin’s music until YY invited me to the concert and I looked him up on YouTube. He’s very much a musician in the process of becoming. Hugely talented, and he seems to love a wide range of sounds and styles. That’s what you get at his concert. It’s jazz. But jazz with lots of this and that. Kauflin is young, he’s fresh, and he’s someone to watch — to listen to — as he continues to develop a sound of his own.

Great concert. And I came home completely inspired. As soon as I walked through the door, I sat at my piano and played. Random chords with my left hand and a tune I made up with my right.

(Here’s a song Kauflin wrote for his Mom.)


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