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Justin Kauflin and Thomas Fonnesbaek at the Governor's School for the Arts


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At a young age Justin Kauflin's musical interest was in classical violin and piano but upon becoming totally blind by age 11 (he was born with a condition called proliferative exudative retinopathy) Kauflin switched his interest to jazz piano. Growing up in Virginia Beach, Va Kauflin was lucky enough to have two outstanding teachers in Elizabeth Barnes of the Governor's School for the Arts and renowned pianist John Toomey of Old Dominion University. By the age of 14 he was gigging with The Jae Sinnett Trio and in 2008 he graduated summa cum laude from William Paterson University having studied with Mulgrew Miller and Harold Mabern. During his time at Paterson Kauflin formed a deep friendship with his mentor Clark Terry. During the filming of a documentary about Terry, Keep On Keepin' On, which Kauflin scored and is featured in, he was introduced to Quincy Jones who became his manager. Kauflin is now based in Virginia Beach and despite his busy touring schedule has joined the faculty of the Governor's School for the Arts in Norfolk where he has introduced "Jazz Nights" at the Governor's School for the Arts.

Danish bassist Thomas Fonnesbaek has become one of the most in demand bass players in the world and has appeared on albums by Monty Alexander, Sinne Eeg, Lars Jansson Justin Kauflin, and many more. Fonnesbaek has synesthesia (the ability to "see" music as colors in his mind). For example, one having synesthesia may hear the name Sam and see the color blue or hear a street name and taste a banana.

When Kauflin and Fonnesbaek recently played together at the Governor's School for the Arts "Jazz Night," they pulled from their 2018 release Synesthesia as well as new material and improvisation. The two musicians have played together so often (many times as a trio with Billy Williams on drums) that they are totally relaxed with each other and this feeling is passed on to the audience. Best described as playful, Kauflin and Fonnesbaek don't let the audience see how hard they are working. At the end of the 90 minute set the audience was ready for another 90.

Following are some photos from the concert.
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