Philadelphia native, drummer, educator and philanthropist Justin Faulkner has cultivated a sound that invites, entertains, informs and heals.
Throughout his career, Faulkner has shared the stage with musical luminaries like Kenny Barron, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Peter Nero, Jimmy Heath, Orrin Evans, Ornette Coleman, Sean Jones, Tim Warfield, Bernard Purdie, Pharoah Saunders, Terence Blanchard, Mingus Big Band/Dynasty/Orchestra, Bootsie Barnes, Jacky Terrasson, Terrence Howard, Bilal, Christian McBride and continues to be the drummer of choice for numerous others.
Justin's training began at the Girard Academic High School Music Program (GAMP). At seven years old, his formal education included studying classical percussion with Susan Jones and jazz drums and percussion with Samuel Ruttenberg. Jazz Ensemble, Chamber Ensemble and Choral Ensemble education at the Kimmel Center created a new understanding of community and the creative ecosystem. The Clef Club of Jazz and the Performing Arts provided freedom of expression for a young musician to find his way. Principal Timpanist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Don Liuzzi, cultivated the detail-oriented nature necessary to craft the full musical experiences Faulkner presents.
As a child prodigy, Justin entered the jazz scene at the tender age of 13, playing his first professional gig with bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma of Ornette Coleman's band Primetime. In the coming years, his apprenticeships with Orrin Evans, J.D. Walter, Boris Kozlov, Bootsie Barnes, Denise King, Michelle Beckham and The Charles Mingus Big Band would shape the still teenager into a gentleman entering the scene elegantly and with a presence.
On March 19, 2009, his 18th birthday, Faulkner started his tenure with the Branford Marsalis Quartet. Since then, Faulkner has toured the world extensively for the last 11 years. The musical expedition has included performances at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Michener Museum (Doylestown, PA), The Kennedy Center (Washington D.C.), Jazz at Lincoln Center( New York City), The Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia), The Blue Note Jazz Club (Tokyo, Japan), Royal Opera House (Muscat, Oman), Vienna Konzerthaus (Vienna, Austria) and Concertgebouw (Amsterdam, Netherlands), to name a few.
Entrepreneurship and education have always been driving forces in Faulkner's life. In addition, his passion for community building and revitalization is the framework of his ethos. In 2015, his business partners Carol Faulkner and Nazir Ebo joined forces to create The Community Unity Music Festival. This festival is a family philanthropic endeavor that creates music education opportunities for young people in the Philadelphia area. The mantra, "Put down the guns and pick up an instrument," changed the scope through which his family viewed the current gun violence problem in Philadelphia. Directly affected by this terror, losing two cousins, the family decided to help make a change. "Free music lessons, free instruments and free interactive concerts with the elite musicians of the world are just starting points to creating social change and hope in our community. These opportunities will provide an alternative, build character, create intellectual liberation and inspire generations to come.” The festival additionally offers job opportunities for the community.
In addition to the festival, in 2019, Faulkner joined the faculty of Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance. This appointment has provided an opportunity to create a strong bond with today's youth and their understanding of jazz's historical, sonic and pedagogical foundation.
Faulkner is grateful for every opportunity he has to share his gift of music with the world. As a conscientious student of music, Justin asserts that prayer, spiritual reflection and focused practice are the centers of his life's progress. He aims to achieve selflessness in his approach as he recognizes it is not about him; it's about the music. "God gives us gifts and talents. Nurturing and developing those talents are the accompanying responsibilities. But, then, the magic starts when it's time to curate a collection of narratives that inform, inspire and leave the listener wanting more."