Jef Kearns is not who would typically come to mind when you think of a best seller in Soul-Jazz and Contemporary R&B (a historical mark he made for his instrument on Amazon.com with his sophomore album, Soulfisticated, and his 2016 follow-up The Flute.)
He is a flautist who, as Detroit Jazz Magazine put it, “makes the flute speak the urban language of soul” with a sound “you normally don’t hear from flautists.” And who, as Smooth Jazz Therapy, a go-to site for smooth jazz reviews said is “dispelling the myth that flute players can’t do urban jazz.”
Jef Kearns’ album, Soulfisticated, sat between the #4 best seller Janelle Monáe‘s “The Electric Lady” and Whitney Houston‘s “Love, Whitney” on Amazon Japan’s R&B charts.
Jef learned to speak the language in the best way possible: immersion. Growing up listening to hip hop and R&B on Detroit radio in the 1990s when the music was what many consider to be in its hey-day, he was the quiet 10 year old riding the line of “loud enough to hear but not loud enough for his parents to catch him up so late” when basking in Kiss FMs late night quiet storm program “Kisses After Dark” and pressing record and rewind on his hip hop radio mixes.
“I’d spend hours in my room playing along with whatever was playing on Hip Hop and R&B radio,” Jef reveals, “and when I wasn’t playing I was listening intensely to what exactly was happening, musically.”
Jef also cut his musical teeth as part of the house band for Toronto, Ontario’s jazz club, Trane Studio (named after John Coltrane) for 5 years on their weekly urban music night. Downbeat Magazine named Trane Studio one of the Top 150 Jazz Clubs worldwide.
Of his music, Jef says, “It is my mission to show people that flute that can be just as soulful and down-and-dirty as sax.
My music sheds a whole new light on urban music and the flute’s place in it. It’s the flute album for people who think they don’t like flute. You’ve never heard it like this before.”