New millennium virtuoso and ‘Late Show’ bandleader Jon Batiste gives a free concert in Marina del Rey

By Bliss Bowen

Colbert’s bandleader headlines his own show on Saturday

It’s fitting that, in the world of late-night TV show hosts and their corresponding sidekicks, Jon Batiste landed with “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.” Eschewing the kitsch of earlier-generation bandleader/sidekicks (think Paul Shaffer and Doc Severinsen), since 2015 the jazz pianist has been the soulful yin to Colbert’s sardonic yang, both sophisticated representatives of taste and humanity in an anything-goes sociopolitical landscape. Those qualities shine through Batiste’s performances
on the show and even more so away from it.

The son of a sprawling New Orleans family of musicians, Batiste is nothing if not eclectic, and busy, with a broad-ranging view of how and where music can inform public life. One of his more intriguing projects: music director for the Atlantic magazine. He’s also co-artistic director, alongside bassist Christian McBride, of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.

Starting with 2005’s “Time in New Orleans,” issued when he was 17, he’s recorded nine albums; he’s still promoting last year’s elegant “Hollywood Africans,” which includes his beautifully introspective take on Louis Armstrong’s signature song “What a Wonderful World” and Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.”

This week Verve releases “Anatomy of Angels: Live at the Village Vanguard,” recorded last year, which complements three of his own compositions with a fresh arrangement of career inspiration Thelonious Monk’s “’Round Midnight” and a collaboration with Lake Street Dive frontwoman Rachael Price on Ray Noble’s standard “The Very Thought of You,” a song they performed to sultry perfection this spring on the public radio show “Live From Here.”

As he announced last September, Batiste is also composing music and lyrics for a musical about artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

First, though, he’s pausing alongside the marina for a free concert Saturday night. Show up early — you’ll likely have a lot of company.

Jon Batiste performs a free outdoor concert from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 3) at Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey. RSVPs at encouraged. Call (310) 305-9545 or see for more info.