B I O
Keenan "Flacco" Ruffin (he/nigga) is a New York City-based guitarist, improviser, and composer with a penchant for cute, complex, cheeky, and cumbersome musical aesthetics. Blending the entire spectrum of jazz, Western art music, electronic sound design, extended forms, and songwriting, Flacco and his Bizarre Adventure scale an auditory topography unlike any other.
In just his early twenties, Ruffin has been noted by the likes of mentors and friends like Eric Hofbauer, Keith Crook, Noah Preminger, and Chris Klaxton to have already developed his own voice on his instrument. Ruffin has lent his guitar playing to configurations in and outside of improvised music. These projects most recently include Flacco’s Bizzare Adventure, Longy’s Modern Times Ensemble (improvised film scoring), the Prehistoric Jazz Ensemble, and a personal concept of solo guitar that integrates pedals, extended technique, as well as deconstruction/arranging. Ruffin aspires to operate from a post-style vantage point, seeking to always serve the music what it needs.
His most ongoing project, “Flacco’s Bizarre Adventure”, explores his various muses in composition, songwriting, sound design, and free improvisation; however, the history and canonical implications of American black music are equally represented. The key pillar of Ruffin’s musical practice is his commitment to the art of jazz improvisation. Using the guitar and incorporating electronics into his expressive voice, Ruffin seeks to engage listeners with an aesthetic that embraces the entire history of Black American Music, historical and current. His forthcoming recording SUGAR ~ SHIT ~ SILK ~ SWEAT slated for release in the spring of 2022 is the most potent expression of Flacco’s musical ideals to date.
As an educator, Ruffin seeks to guide students through all the noise and hang-ups that get in the way of music-making through initiating introspection, optimizing playing mechanics, and eliciting curiosity and individual exploration. He has taught guitar privately at the award-winning high-school jazz program at the Fryeburg Academy in Fryeburg, ME. Currently, he serves as a Resident Teaching Artist in the Borrough of Queens with Artistyear.
Ruffin completed his Master of Music in Jazz & Contemporary Music - Guitar, at the Longy School of Music of Bard College in Cambridge, MA with a Graduate Fellowship and scholarship. At Longy, he’s studied guitar with Eric Hofbauer and composition with Dr. Matthew Evan Taylor. He earned a Bachelor of Music in Performance, jazz studies concentration at the University of Southern Maine where he studied with Keith Crook, Chris Klaxton & Gary Wittner. He earned a President’s Transfer Scholarship to attend USM. Thus far in his career he’s been able to perform alongside Frank Carlberg, Jeff Coffin, Max Light, and Kris Davis. When not practicing or composing Flacco can be seen doing a treflip, wearing fashionable duds, nerding out on Tekken, listening to records, or cooking a stir-fry, perhaps even all at once.