Pianist, bandleader, composer, and educator Jonathan Batiste is an adventurous, eclectic, jazz-based musician. Since 2015, he has been the bandleader and musical director for CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
A native of Kenner, Louisiana, Batiste grew up in a musical family and first performed with his relatives in the Batiste Brothers Band. Educated at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Batiste graduated (along with classmate Trombone Shorty) in 2004. A year later he released his debut album, 2005's Times in New Orleans, featuring drummer Jason Marsalis, saxophonist Donald Harrison, Jr., and trumpeter Christian Scott.
After high school, Batiste studied at the Juilliard School in New York City. It was during this time that Batiste began performing around the city with his trio featuring bassist Phil Kuehn and drummer Joe Saylor. Batiste featured this group on his 2005 album, Live in New York: At the Rubin Museum of Art.
Eventually, Batiste added saxophonist Eddie Barbash to his trio, and the ensemble Stay Human was born. Batiste & Stay Human began performing impromptu outdoor concerts and quickly garnered acclaim for their lively mix of jazz, gospel, pop, and R&B. Stay Human released their debut EP in 2011, followed up by the full-length album Social Music in 2013. Also in 2013, Batiste joined Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and bassist/producer Bill Laswell to record the soundtrack to a forthcoming film. While the movie never materialized, the soundtrack the trio recorded was released in 2014 as The Process.
In 2015, Batiste & Stay Human took over as the house band for the CBS nighttime talk show The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The following year, they released the Late Show EP, featuring The Late Show's intro and outro themes, as well as live cuts recorded during commercial breaks. The album debuted at number three on Billboard's Jazz Albums chart. Also in 2016, the pianist released the holiday album Christmas with Jon Batiste. ~ Matt Collar