Bandleader Jon Batiste leaves Colbert’s The Late Show after 7 years

Jon Batiste, his career booming after winning multiple Grammys this year, is stepping down as bandleader of Jthe Late Show after a seven-year run in support of host Stephen Colbert.

“We’ve been so lucky to have a front row seat for Jon’s incredible talent for the past seven years,” Colbert said on Thursday’s show. “But we’re happy for you, Jon, and I can’t wait to see you back as a guest with your next hit album.”

Louis Cato, who served as interim conductor this summer, will take over permanently when the show returns for its eighth season. He has been a part of the show since its launch. Cato has worked with Beyonce, Mariah Carey and John Legend and is working on a new album. Colbert called him a musical genius.

“He can play pretty much every instrument there,” Colbert said. “Give him an afternoon, he’ll learn to play Mozart on a shoehorn.”

Batiste, Colbert shared mutual respect

Batiste toured the world with his band Stay Human and made a memorable stop at Comedy Central The Colbert Report in 2014.

When the producers of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert were planning to have a house band the following year, Batiste and Stay Human were a natural choice.

The mutual respect that Colbert and Batiste shared was evident. The conductor often applauded the comedian’s night monologue on the piano, appeared in segments and accompanied musical guests.

Stephen Colbert and Jon Batiste perform at the Montclair Film 70s Mixtape Party with the Losers Lounge at the Wellmont Theater on February 24, 2018. While bandleader on The Late Show, Batiste would often applaud Colbert’s late night monologue on the piano. (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Montclair Film)

Batiste has stuck with the gig even during the pandemic, delivering tunes, both originals and covers, on location.

The multi-instrumentalist has won five Grammys this year. Batiste composed music, consulted and arranged songs for Pixar’s animated film Soula midlife crisis film mixed with New York jazz fantasy and body-swapping comedy.

He won a Golden Globe for Music alongside Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails; and the trio also won the Oscar for Best Original Score. For their work on Soul, Batiste, Reznor and Ross won the Grammy for Best Soundtrack for Visual Media.

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