Who is Jon Batiste?

April 13, 2021


Jon Batiste has earned a good deal of praise for his behind-the-scenes contribution to the Pixar movie, SOUL. You probably know Jon Batiste as bandleader and musical director on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. But his credentials are deep as the roots of the Batiste family tree. He’s the co-artistic director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, and has been a collaborator with everyone from pop singer Tori Kelly to the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He’s graduate of both the Julliard School and the New Orleans Center of the Creative Arts, and an alumni of both Wynton Marsalis’ and Roy Hargrove’s bands.

For the past decade, he’s developed his version of “jazz 2.0,” which includes what he calls “social music.” Its lineage stems from Batiste’s native New Orleans but also runs through his adopted hometown of New York City, thanks to elders like Lionel Hampton and Dr. Billy Taylor, who brought jazz from the concert halls to the streets. But Batiste is also a part of yet another lineage: jazz musicians in late-night television.

He has recorded and performed with artists in various genres of music (Stevie Wonder, Prince, Willie Nelson, Lenny Kravitz, Ed Sheeran, and Mavis Staples), released his own recordings, and performed in more than 40 countries. Batiste regularly tours with his band Stay Human,and appears with them nightly as bandleader and musical director on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.