Jon Batiste: The Message

Apple Music
Jon Batiste: The Message

Acclaimed jazz pianist and composer Jon Batiste makes music primarily because it fulfills him, but the ambitions of his practice extend far beyond personal adulation. “The thing that I really pray for the [Black] community—and our country in general—is to have a sense of how great the prior achievements are and the lessons that we can take from those achievements today,” Batiste tells Ebro in the latest episode of The Message. “There's so much that we don't know—that if we knew, we would know how royal we are.” Batiste, who is maybe best known as the bandleader and musical director for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, released his eighth studio album WE ARE in 2021. For his The Message playlist, Batiste put together a collection of Black innovators who span genres and generations, artists like Chuck Berry, Paul Robeson, Mos Def, and Lia De Itamaraca, alongside a few selections from WE ARE, an album Batiste engineered to educate listeners about popular music’s origins just as it alludes to where he sees things going. “WE ARE is really a proclamation that Black culture is quintessential American culture,” Batiste says of the 2022 Album of the Year Grammy-winning project. “Black culture—to express the level of innovation and the foresight in establishing modern democracy in America, and then the reluctance to recognize Black genius in the foundation of that, but then for it to emerge anyway, and to become a part of everything—every time I go to a school, anytime I travel, and you just see the way that all of the cultures of the world have converged in this melting pot of American culture. And the way that it's become more and more synthesized now, it's a new time coming. I don't really know what to call it, but it's coming.”

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