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Who Is Jon Batiste, Stephen Colbert's New 'Late Show' Band Leader?

By Vivian Kane | Miscellaneous | September 9, 2015 |

By Vivian Kane | Miscellaneous | September 9, 2015 |

Last night, not only did we get to see the “real” Stephen Colbert as he debuted as host of the Late Show, but we also got to meet and spend some time with the show’s new bandleader, Jon Batiste and his hat-loving band, Stay Human. If you’re not a major contemporary jazz fan, you may have been wondering, just who is this man who made his way onto late night TV, who plays a weird mouth piano and got to party with Mavis Staples, Ben Folds, Buddy Guy, Derek Trucks, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, Susan Tedeschi, Aloe Blacc, (St.) Paul Janeway, and a couple members of Beirut, all in one night? Well, here are a couple things you should know about Jon Batiste.

Colbert likes him.
That’s pretty much all we knew back when Batiste was announced as band leader back in June, and really, that’s all we need.

He’s only 28, but he’s crazy accomplished.
Batiste was born into a family of musicians and released his first album, Times In New Orleans, when he was 17. He studied at Julliard (which is where he met some of his Stay Human bandmates) and is currently the Artistic Director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.

He toured with Prince.
He’s also had some majorly high-profile collaborators, like Lenny Kravitz, Jimmy Buffett, Cassandra Wilson, Harry Connick Jr., and Wynton Marsalis. And even though he’s a jazz musician, that definitely doesn’t limit his influences.

He’s “New Orleans bred, New York-based.”
If you couldn’t tell Batiste was a New Orleans musician by his incredible, infectious, celebratory street party style of performing, you may have recognized him from playing himself on Treme.

He and Colbert go way back.
Well, all the way back to last year, when Colbert interviewed him on The Report.

That thing he plays is called a harmonaboard.
Or at least that’s what HE calls it. You may know it as a melodica. Or, according to Wikipedia, a pianica, blow-organ or key-flute— though “blow organ” sounds profoundly dirty so obviously that’s what we should all be calling it now.

The man knows how to start a party.
But you knew that after last night.

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