Episode 18: Jon Batiste
Jon Batiste is one of the most exciting young jazz performers around, so it was no surprise to see him on the Colbert Report earlier this year, leading his band (Stay Human) and the entire audience (including Colbert) in a parade out of the studio and into the streets of New York.
Born in Kenner, Louisiana into a musical family, Jon started performing as a young boy - singing and playing drums with his family band. He describes his childhood as a kind of duality between his normal suburban life, and the exposure to live music that he got with his family band. “It was like: You see the people out there. We’re doing a show so when it’s your turn I want you to give it all you’ve got.”
Jon’s solo project encapsulates his approach. After recording a couple of traditional piano jazz records in the mid 2000s – when he was still only in his late teens and early 20s – he started to look for new ways to reach his audience and connect with people. He says he wanted to put the music “in life” – so you have this experience with music that you’ll never forget.
He refers to this as “Social Music”. He says, “I think that Social Music isn’t a genre. It’s an approach and an evolution of music. This is where we are. It’s not something I constructed. I’m basically articulating what I think everybody feels already.”
This interview was very transformative for me personally. I like Jon Batiste so much, the way he plays, the way he carries himself, his sense of personal style and his overall conception. He’s still in his 20s but he’s so aware of the tradition and his place within it, and so optimistic about the power of music in the world. I just can’t stop thinking about our conversation.
Stream below or download from iTunes.