Album of the Week: Jon Batiste, 'WE ARE'

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Jon Batiste, 'WE ARE'
Jon Batiste, 'WE ARE' (Courtesy of Artist)
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Sean McPherson - Album of the Week: Jon Batiste, 'WE ARE'
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Chances are, you know Jon Batiste, a lot of us invite him into our living room each night as the bandleader and musical director of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. But it's not every bandleader that can step up and become a frontperson. But Jon Batiste is not every bandleader.

This album exudes the energy of a generous musical soul, who wants to let the songs win and wants the egos parked as far away from the music stands as possible. There's plenty of great guests including the voice of Mavis Staples and the guitar work of Cory Wong, who is based in Minnesota, but the core of the record is Jon Batiste's musical universe.

New Orleans is all over this album, the brass, the shuffles, the bounce and the prideful celebration of black traditions and cultures. Jon Batiste is steeped in it and whether he's panting a picture of childhood hijinks on BOYHOOD or exploring the trauma that the world can put on our shoulders on CRY, he does it with an insatiable spirit of generosity. I hear it in every note he sings and plays.

Jon Batiste recently connected with The Current in a virtual session to play a few tracks from WE ARE and to share more details about the making of the album.

Virtual Session

Interview Highlight

You make beautiful music and in "Freedom," you're singing about freedom, and you're talking about moving your body as part of freedom, and I think you're talking about more than that as well. Can you tell me a little bit about what freedom means to you in the world and in musical pursuits?

Freedom is the the right as Mavis Staples says on the album, she says a beautiful quote about freedom is the right for men and women to do what they want. Really, that's a very simple definition. But it can be difficult to exercise your right to do what you want and to exist as you are when things may be trying to cloud that or block that, and I don't think that it's a "do what you want," like whatever you want no matter if it hurts anybody but it's a do what you want, based on the idea that you're a part of the greater whole, and everyone is equal, and everyone has the right to be able to exist as they want. And that's really what it is in music that is beautiful, everything in music that you love, and all the different ways music has been used is amazing when you think that there's only these 12 notes. And everybody has had these 12 notes, Beethoven, Nina Simone, James Brown--and the freedom of how they use those notes and approach those notes, in musical pursuits is what we love. We love to hear how this generation--this person is going to use the notes different to how anyone in centuries past have used those notes. That's really what I'm all about, taking things from the past and blending them with the things in the present to create the future. And that's freedom to me.

External Link

Jon Batiste- official site

Related Stories

  • Jon Batiste: Virtual Session Jon Batiste plays a few of his recent songs, plus a conversation with Sean McPherson about the influence of New Orleans on his music, setting his intentions with Stevie Wonder, and recording music outside of a traditional studio environment.

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