“Man, there is no other gig like this,” Jon Batiste declares buoyantly, settling onto a sofa in his New York office. It’s a little after 11 a.m., and the Louisiana-born musician has just arrived for work—next door to the Ed Sullivan Theater, where he’s been an onstage regular since September 2015, playing piano and leading his band Stay Human on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
“It’s like audio Lego,” Batiste continues, grinning. “There’s improvisation and incidental music, cues to accent different jokes. Then there’s the audience—500 people every night, a different house. Jazz, at the root of what I do, helps me tremendously.”