39: The Musicians Behind Late Show with Stephen Colbert
This week, Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” begins, replacing David Letterman and starting a new tradition for late night television. Colbert chose young powerhouse pianist Jon Batiste to lead his band, and Batiste in turn selected Michael Thurber to play bass in the band.
I've talked with both Batiste and Thurber for this podcast in the past, discussing their early musical development and general outlook on music today. In celebration of The Late Show's kickoff, I compiled some highlights from our previous conversations, as well as a conversation I had with Will Lee, the veteran Late Show bassist from Letterman's band.
I also had a chance to catch up with both Will Lee and Michael Thurber this week to find out what they’re thinking about right now. For Will, after playing for over 30 years on the Letterman show, he feels a new sense of freedom in his schedule and career. For Thurber, there’s a sense of excitement and uncertainty about the next phase of his life and the evolution of the new show.
Individually, each conversation offers an enlightening look into the personal journeys all artists take, the difficult choices they must make, and the overall sense of wonder about life that they all share.
Taken as a whole, to me they paint an incredibly inspirational picture of how to approach life and art.
All three are extremely generous and open people, and their openness, candor and generosity point to a larger truth about success in the arts: when you work on your craft, you are really working on yourself. It’s not that art imitates life; art is life.