Jon BatisteThe band leader on his genre-busting year.

Jon BatisteThe band leader on his genre-busting year.

Issue 41

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Music

  • Words Charles Shafaieh
  • Photography Justin French

Jon Batiste’s fifth studio album, We Are, is by turns jubilant and tender. The same description applies to the musician himself, who speaks with strangers as if they were longtime friends and often breaks into song without prompting. The 34-year-old son of a storied New Orleans music family has many reasons for joy of late.1 Best known as the band leader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he recently attracted a younger audience with Pixar’s animated hit Soul, whose jazz pianist protagonist’s fingers are modeled on his own. Just days before our interview, he, along with co-composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, won an Academy Award for their score for the film. Batiste doesn’t restrict his talents to the screen, the studio or the concert hall however. Music, he believes, ...

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