If Louis Armstrong and the Robert Glasper Experiment birthed a musical band, Jon Batiste and Stay Human would be the product. The unique infusion of Soul and Jazz entices rhythmic movement from audience members. Whether it is snapping fingers, tapping feet or bobbing heads, Jon Batiste and Stay Human speak a language through their music the body understands.
Sony Music Canada recently conducted a private performance at the Long and McQuade Performance Hall, a part of the band’s Social Music tour. The venue, a small room filled with musical instrumentals and rows of chairs, provided an intimate setting, while Jazz FM broadcasted the performance.
The born and raised Louisiana native, Jonathan Batiste, stole the audience with his charming, melancholy personality. During a break between performances, Batiste was asked about his thoughts on the process of mixing his Juilliard School training and infusing different styles of music.
“It’s best not to think,” Batiste answers with a southern drawl. “It’s music, so you do the thinking in the practice room.”
It was tambourine and drummer band mate Joe Saylor’s first time in Toronto. Meeting Batiste impromptu while they were skipping class in 2004, Saylor loves trading spontaneous ideas while playing during the performances.
“We do it differently every time. So that makes it fresh and surprising,” shares Saylor.
Saylor was referring to a moment when Batiste surprised the crowd by pulling out and playing an odd looking instrument. The melodica, an even odder name, can be best described as a hybrid of the piano and the harmonica. The band took cue, playing “On the Sunny Side of the Street”, as the crowd started singing along.
Batiste, also a noted advocate for music education, offered advice to the up and coming generation wanting to pursue a career in the arts.
“It’s never too early to start researching and see if it’s for you,” said Batiste. “The earlier you start digging into it, the more you will find yourself.”
Words By. Moreblessing Munangwa + Photos By. Iris Gill