Anatomy of Angels: Live at the Village Vanguard

Anatomy of Angels: Live at the Village Vanguard

Recorded live at New York’s singular downtown nightspot in late 2018, Anatomy of Angels finds Jon Batiste, pianist and bandleader of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, in a setting wholly different from his 2018 vocal outing Hollywood Africans. The album faithfully follows the arc of a live set as Batiste, bassist Phil Kuehn, and drummer Joe Saylor settle in for some deep trio exploration up top with “Creative” and “Dusk Train to Doha.” The format evolves as Lake Street Dive’s Rachael Price takes the stage for a vocal-piano duet on the old ballad “The Very Thought of You.” Then, with hearty and infectious audience approval, four horns join the fray on Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight” (Giveton Gelin and Jon Lampley on trumpets, Tivon Pennicott and Patrick Bartley on tenor and alto saxes respectively). The horns stay on for the closing title track, a nearly 13-minute journey through dazzling tempo shifts and solos that are by turns cathartic and gorgeously lyrical. Batiste’s TV gig, great as it is, probably can’t beat the feeling of this kind of high-level invention, on jazz’s most revered bandstand.

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