Stephen Colbert and CBS made a big announcement yesterday, naming Jon Batiste as his bandleader for the Late Show when the comedian debuts on September 8. It's too early to make David Letterman comparisons, but if Colbert and Batiste have a relationship as friendly as the former Late Show host and Paul Shaffer, we'll be seeing a lot of the jazz musician for years to come.
Many listeners might not be as in-tune with the jazz scene as they should be, but Batiste joins Trombone Shorty as perhaps the most talked-about performer in genre currently. The multi-instrumentalist (who has a special fondness for the melodica) leads his own band, the Stay Human, on tour and also serves as the associate artistic director for the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. His new gig down Broadway will give him more reason to stick around New York City and continue carrying out those duties as well, we hope.
A New Orleans native, Batiste has collaborated with big names such as Dr. John, Wynton Marsalis and Allen Toussaint over the years, as well as even bigger names from outside Louisiana, including Prince. One of his more recent projects was The Process, an album he cut with Red Hot Chili Peppers Drummer Chad Smith and super-bassist Bill Laswell.
Dedicated viewers of The Colbert Report might recall when Batiste and his band stopped by the show for a performance during 2014, which might have come across as slightly awkward. Indeed, Music Times found out at Lollapalooza last year that Batiste, while brilliant, can often be difficult to wrap one's mind around.
Colbert seems to like him however, saying so in his official announcement this week.
"I like this guy," the host said. "His music makes the audience feel so good, we may have to install a 'do not make love' sign."