Justin Kauflin – Coming Home

Album Review | Qwest Records | Review by Liam Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Bring together one of the finest contemporary jazz pianists and a world renowned producer and you’ll almost certainly get an impressive album. But when that producer is Quincy Jones and said pianist is Justin Kauflin, a blind musician whose intention is to communicate, through sound, the incredible colours and textures he experiences against the black and grey landscape of his blindness, what you actually get is an extraordinary musical project indeed. From its opening chords, Coming Home presents something very special. These are utterly beautiful compositions, most of them Justin’s own work, but some of them interpretations of the work of other writers such as Sufjan Stevens’ “John My Beloved” and the two striking readings of The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” (one accompanied and the other solo). But whilst it’s nice to hear Justin’s take on these well-known melodies, the peaks of this record are reached via the pianist and keyboardist’s own pen. And that pen has a wonderfully diverse nib. There’s the slick and soulful “Pendulum”, the joyfully nimble “Country Fried” and a host of deeply contemplative and melancholy tracks such as “Lost” and the album’s title track, all of them showcasing the musicianship of a stunning ensemble which includes Chris Smith on bass, Corey Fonville on drums and Alan Parker on guitar. And as well as the legendary Quincy Jones, the prolific bassist and producer Derrick Hodge also mans the levers and dials.