Jon Batiste Exits Bandleader Position at Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Grammy-winning musician Jon Batiste has left his role as bandleader for Late Night with Stephen Colbert. The late night host made the announcement on Thursday night’s show. Stepping into his very big shoes will be Louis Cato, who has been filling in for Batiste over the summer. Stephen Colbert said the rest of Batiste’s Stay Human group will remain intact, then introduced his studio audience to what will now be called Louis Cato and the Late Show Band.

Earlier this year, Batiste’s album We Are took home the Album of the Year Grammy, one of its 11 nominations. He’s won five overall, and also has an Oscar, which he shares with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for Best Original Score for the movie Soul

Colbert broke the news of Batiste’s departure gently, explaining that he was leaving “for all the best reasons, including to continue sharing his art with the world.” Alas, the announcement did not include an in-person sendoff (Joe Walsh, the Eagles guitarist that has been sitting in with the group, was ready to pop out of a cake, apparently), but Colbert said he’s been “so lucky to have a front row seat to Jon’s incredible talent for seven years.”

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Batiste has been Colbert’s bandleader since the show began in 2015. The 35-year-old is part of the legendary New Orleans Batiste family of musicians, which includes composer Harold Batiste, clarinetist Alvin Batiste, Lionel Batiste of the Treme Brass Band, and Jon’s cousin, Russell Batiste, a member of the Funky Meters. Early in the Colbert-Batiste partnership, the pair went to New Orleans, where Jon introduced Stephen to his roots. 


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As for the new guy, it’s a promote-from-within situation, as Louis Cato is already a member of Batiste’s Stay Human group. He is a bassist, guitarist, drummer, trombonist, tuba player, singer, songwriter, and producer who, as Colbert put it, can play Mozart on a shoehorn. He was born in Portugal, raised in North Carolina, and has recorded with a slew of jazz, R&B, pop, and cross-genre greats. 

Over the years, Batiste has engaged in many great Late Show pre-recorded bits, like a humorous spin on Jazz 101, performed surprising covers of video game music, hit the streets of Manhattan for various “love riots,” and brought nonagenarian jazz drummer Roy Haynes up to his office for a jam session.

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