In LA, Kiefer builds modern grooves from deep jazz roots
Keyboardist, composer, and producer Kiefer has established a reputation in the world of hip-hop. He won a Grammy Award in 2020 for his work on Anderson .Paak's album Ventura. With his new releases this year, Kiefer continues to raise his profile with fans of modern jazz.
Kiefer Shackelford grew up in Southern California in the '90s learning classical and jazz piano. The influence of hip-hop came early on, Kiefer began experimenting with his own computer-generated beats as a young teenager.
After high school, Kiefer studied with jazz legends like guitarist Kenny Burrell and pianist Tamir Hendelman at UCLA. His professional work, though, was mostly focused on hip-hop projects in Los Angeles which led to producing for .Paak starting in 2017.
More recently, Kiefer appeared on English modern jazz duo Blue Lab Beats' debut for Blue Note Records. He co-wrote, produced and played keyboards on last year's "Dat It," playing a beautiful acoustic piano melody that guides a laid-back groove.
This year's digital release "Why Not?" accompanied a cover of Bobby Hutcherson's "Montara" and seems to show Kiefer drawing more directly from his jazz background. Further proof comes in newly released collaborations with saxophonist Braxton Cook, a longtime member of trumpeter Christian Scott's band.
Listen for Kiefer's modern jazz trio fused with West Coast hip-hop soul on The New Cool and don't miss his next visit to Seattle. Kiefer opens for the Boston funk jazz crew Lettuce at the Showbox January 21.
The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Washington. LISTEN ON DEMAND