About Jon Batiste
Keyboardist, bandleader, singer, composer, and educator Jon Batiste is an adventurous, eclectic jazz-based musician. Since 2015, he has been the bandleader and musical director for CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and toured the globe with his own group. The nephew of New Orleans musical greats Lionel Batiste and Harold Battiste, he issued his debut album at 17, Times in New Orleans, which was celebrated for its timeless take on Crescent City jazz, funk, pop, and R&B. Though heralded as a brilliant pianist and organist, his use of the melodica -- which has graced albums by artists ranging from Stevie Wonder and Harry Connick, Jr. to Trombone Shorty -- has become a visible signature of his abilities. Batiste has busked on street corners, held music clinics worldwide, and managed to draw multitudes to his wide-open, accessible brand of rhythmic swing on virtually any keyboard instrument he chooses, in any genre. He has also scored films including Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer and toured with artists ranging from Prince to Lenny Kravitz. In 2018, he earned his first Grammy nomination for his rootsy take on "Saint James Infirmary," from his expansive album Hollywood Africans.
A native of Kenner, Louisiana, Batiste grew up in a musical family and first performed with his relatives in the Batiste Brothers Band. Educated at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Batiste graduated (along with classmate Trombone Shorty) in 2004. A year later, he released his debut album, 2005's Times in New Orleans, featuring drummer Jason Marsalis, saxophonist Donald Harrison, Jr., and trumpeter Christian Scott.
After high school, Batiste studied at the Juilliard School in New York City. It was during this time that he began performing around the city with his trio featuring bassist Phil Kuehn and drummer Joe Saylor. Batiste featured this group on his 2005 album Live in New York: At the Rubin Museum of Art.
Eventually, Batiste added saxophonist Eddie Barbash to his trio, and the ensemble Stay Human was born. Batiste & Stay Human began performing impromptu outdoor concerts and quickly earned acclaim for their lively mix of jazz, gospel, pop, and R&B. Stay Human released their debut EP in 2011, followed by the full-length album Social Music in 2013. Also in 2013, Batiste joined Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and bassist/producer Bill Laswell to record the soundtrack to a forthcoming film. While the movie never materialized, the soundtrack the trio recorded was released in 2014 as The Process.
In 2015, Batiste & Stay Human became the house band for the CBS nighttime talk show The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The following year, they released the Late Show EP, featuring The Late Show's intro and outro themes, as well as live cuts recorded during commercial breaks. The album debuted at number three on the Jazz Albums chart. Later in 2016, the pianist released the holiday album Christmas with Jon Batiste.
Two years later, in the fall of 2018, Batiste issued his debut album for Verve, Hollywood Africans. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, the album found Batiste diving deep into his personal and cultural heritage, weaving an intimate tapestry from original material and American standards, creating a musical journey from early New Orleans jazz to the jazz and pop of the present day. The album peaked at number two on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart and earned Batiste a Grammy nomination for Best American Roots Performance for his rendition of "Saint James Infirmary."
In August 2019, he returned with Anatomy of Angels: Live at the Village Vanguard, which captured Batiste in concert during his 2018 residency at the storied New York City venue. Featured alongside the pianist were guests including Lake Street Dive vocalist Rachael Price, tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott, trumpeter Jon Lampley, and others. A companion album culled from Batiste's Vanguard residency, Chronology of a Dream: Live at the Village Vanguard, followed that October. In June 2020, Batiste released the song "We Are," inspired by the Black Lives Matter protest movement. Also that year, he contributed songs to the animated Disney-Pixar film Soul and released the companion album Music from and Inspired by Soul. ~ Matt Collar
BORNNovember 11, 1986