Jon Batiste and Stay Human perform at Howard Theatre
Now just 27 years old, "Jonathan Batiste hails from a tradition of poised and percussive New Orleans pianists and handsomely lives up to it. He also has a blatant crush on Thelonious Monk (not such a bad thing), " said The New York Times of a 2008 performance. "Batiste was stunning: he played a solo in the piano's upper region that was spare, forceful, witty, funky, imaginative and coherent. He seemed free, as if he weren't trying to score points on depth and modernity but just squeezing juice out of the song; and thoughtful, as if walking in slow motion, " said the New York Times of a 2008 performance. Batiste's latest CD, Social Music, released in 2013, combines elements from his New Orleans upbringing with funk, hip-hop and new age. Said Jazz Times, "This perfectly titled album is a mash-up of time and tempo, jazz and pop, rhythm and blues, modern tunes and warhorses. Sparked by Jon Batiste's New Orleans-steeped piano, jaunty vocals and melodica (he calls it a "harmonaboard"), Social Music is all about engagement. Music this eclectic and user-friendly could make jazz popular again."
Batiste first performed percussion in his family's Batiste Brothers Band at age eight. He switched to piano around the age of 12 and at age 17 had released the first of his two CDs as a leader, entitled Times in New Orleans, featuring such New Orleans musicians as Jason Marsalis, Donald Harrison Jr. and Christian Scott. A member of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), Batiste went on to study at the Juilliard School in 2004. Batiste began performing regularly around the New York music scene with his trio, including bassist Phil Kuehn and drummer Joe Saylor in 2005, and in 2006 received the Movado Future Legend Award, having already released his second CD, Live In New York: At The Rubin Museum Of Art. 2006 also included performances in South Africa, London, Lisbon, Spain, Paris, and the U.S. Batiste later recruited Eddie Barbash on alto saxophone and later Ibanda Ruhumbika on tuba to join his band.
Batiste made his debut at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw in 2007, producing and performing his own show and also conducting clinics, master classes and workshops throughout Holland in inner city schools and underprivileged neighborhoods. This was followed by a Carnegie Hall performance. Batiste also began an ongoing collaboration with vocalist Cassandra Wilson in 2007.
Batiste was the youngest artist featured in the 2008 NBA All-Star Game Halftime show, where he performed alongside Allen Toussaint, Harry Connick Jr., Dr. John, Ellis Marsalis, Art Neville, Ivan Neville, and Davell Crawford. By 2009, Batiste had performed in over 40 countries. 2011 saw the release of another self-produced CD entitled MY NY. The album was recorded entirely within the NYC subway system across numerous impromptu performances.
Batiste has recorded and performed with such artists as the Soul Rebels Brass Band, Wynton Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, Prince (musician), Lenny Kravitz, Aloe Blacc, Judith Hill, Harry Connick Jr., Cassandra Wilson, Derek Trucks, Jimmy Buffett, Abbey Lincoln, Roy Hargrove and Mark O' Connor among others.
Batiste is co-director and music curator at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, where he has programmed numerous educational workshops. Known for actively engaging with audiences in an effort to create greater accessibility to and appreciation for the art of live music, Batiste is also a traveling ambassador for the New York- based non-profit organization "Music Unites" founded by Michelle Edgar, working to bring music education to children
A co-presentation with the Howard Theatre
Since 1965, Washington Performing Arts Society has had a foundational role in the arts in our nation's capital, creating profound opportunities that connect community and artists, in both education and performance. Through live events in 11 venues that criss-cross the D.C. metropolitan area, the careers of emerging artists are launched and nurtured, and established artists return to develop closer relationships with WPAS audiences and creative partners.
As one of the leading presenters in the nation, Washington Performing Arts Society embraces a broad spectrum of the performing arts, including classical music, jazz, gospel, contemporary dance and music, international music and art forms, and new work. Dynamic education programs in the public schools and beyond are hallmarks of WPAS, as are WPAS's Embassy Adoption Program and two resident gospel choirs.
In the 2012–13 season, WPAS was twice honored for its work at the intersection of arts presenting and education: by President Barack Obama with a National Medal of Arts (becoming only the fourth D.C.-based arts group and the first arts presenter of its kind to be so honored), and the Mayor's Arts Award for Excellence in Service to the Arts.
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