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Keepin’ It Real With Jon Batiste

By Melissa Ponton

Asst. Arts & Entertainment Editor, Copy Editor

Critically acclaimed jazz artist Jon Batiste will take the Krasnoff Theater stage (formerly the Hillwood Recital Hall) to treat showgoers to a night of both his original compositions and American standards on Friday, Sept. 28.

“Hollywood Africans” album cover

Batiste will promote his forthcoming album “Hollywood Africans,” which is set to be released on the day of the performance. The album includes classics such as “Saint James Infirmary,” “Smile,” “The Very Thought of You,” and “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. Batiste plans to take his listeners from “the early jazz of New Orleans to the present day” within his new album, guaranteeing an exciting night for the audience.

Some will know Batiste from “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” as the leader of the house-band Stay Human. Stay Human has performed alongside several famous musicians such as Long Island legend Billy Joel and Pulitzer Prize winner Wynton Marsalis.

For his debut solo album, Batiste collaborated with producer T Bone Burnett, who has worked with numerous artists and film soundtracks. Additionally, Burnett’s work for the film soundtrack “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” won album of the year at the Grammy Awards.

According to his official website, Batiste wanted the collaboration to create a sound that both he and Burnett would feel was authentic. In the end they were able to create an album that Batiste considers to be a personal, stripped-down version of who he is. The album also encompasses the musicians and performers that have inspired him throughout his life.

Batiste has many accolades of his own. In 2016, he was featured on Forbes 30 Under 30 music list, and in 2017 received the American Jazz Museum Lifetime Achievement Award and the Harry Chapin ASCAP Humanitarian Award. Batiste also serves as the Music Director of The Atlantic and the Creative Director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. He plays a variety of instruments including the piano, voice, melodica, electric bass and Hammond organ.

In his performance and on his upcoming solo album, Batiste hopes to demonstrate an intimate side of himself. In addition to creating a personal and sentimental environment for all his listeners, whether they see him live or just listen to his recorded album. It is also important for him to showcase his cultural heritage within his mix of American standards and original compositions.

Batiste further notes that he wants people to feel a variety of emotions when they hear his new album. He wants listeners to remember the black heroes of our world and the legacy that they have left behind. From smiles, laughs, to tears Batiste hopes that all his listeners feel a variety of emotions when listening to “Hollywood Africans.”

Tickets can be brought at the Tilles Center box office for $55 and $15 with a valid student ID.

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