DC JazzFest: Jon Batiste & Stay Human
“I think we each need to identify what the thing is that we were born to do,” says Jon Batiste. “Everybody has something they are born with and are representing—but a lot of times we run from that, from what comes most naturally. But once you find that, then you can learn and add different flavors and spices, and really grow with what you are and who you are.”
The title of HOLLYWOOD AFRICANS comes from a 1983 painting by the great African-American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the reference is significant. “Basquiat is an example of someone drawing from all his influences,” Batiste says, “who benefited from the sacrifices of those who came before him, but displayed that we have so much more to do—even though we’ve come a long way. It’s a critique of things we have had to go through, but that have allowed people like me and him the opportunities to do the things we’ve been able to do.
With HOLLYWOOD AFRICANS, Batiste dives deep into his own personal and cultural heritage, weaving an intimate and emotional tapestry out of original material and American standards that carries the listener from the early jazz of New Orleans to the present day. Guiding the acclaimed singer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and leader of the group Stay Human—since 2015 the house band of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert—was legendary producer T Bone Burnett, whose numerous accolades include Album of the Year Grammys for the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack and Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.