On Jazz and On Love with Kiefer

// Photo by Molly Egan

The Red Line was full Sunday night carrying Berklee students from Boylston to Central Square. Jazz and hip-hop aficionados alike made the trek to Cambridge to watch Kiefer at the Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub, where we were lucky enough to see the three-piece band. A few shows into their North American tour, Kiefer (keys), Efajemue (drums), and Carrtoons (bass) translated an impressive recorded sound to something that shone even brighter live.

Now, I’ll start with the disclaimer that I know nothing about jazz. But, hopefully, my more visceral reactions are evidence that Kiefer knows how to make the crowd swoon. When Efajemue subdivided the beat (language I picked up in the line for the bathroom) a collective “damn” could be heard from the audience; even those in Kiefer’s top 0.1 percent of Spotify listeners (a brag I heard in line) couldn’t anticipate the masterful ways he flowed from one motif to the next. To me, it was all just absolutely elating. I let the sound (expertly mixed by Ynes Mon) take control of me, leading even to a momentary consideration about whether a music degree was really my true calling.

Kiefer and his band at the Middle East

// Photo by Molly Egan

At one point, I overheard one of the great musical debates taking place: “Bro, was that Mixolydian dominant?” “Nah, man, I think that was Phrygian major.” Whether you can answer that question or not, though, it's hard to keep from wondering how many hours of practice it takes to get to a level of skill like Kiefer’s. The LA-based musician released his fourth studio album, It’s OK, B U, this September, and has worked on projects ranging from Anderson .Paak’s Ventura to Samsung’s latest Galaxy S Series ringtone. He teaches free classes over Zoom to a dedicated and growing fanbase. On Bandcamp, one fan describes what we’ve all been thinking: “Dude never misses.”

Between songs, he shared quips about his career, odes to his team, and, most poignantly, advice for a crowd that was made up mostly of prospective musicians. He joked about how Berklee “lost his admission file,” but he harbored no resentment for the school, telling students in the crowd to always “believe in yourself, and see the best in people.” Even down to his socks, which read “do what you love,” it’s clear to see that when you’re as passionate about music as Kiefer is, you’ll end up with something brilliant.

// Molly Egan ’26 is a staff writer for The Jazz Spectrum.