Jon Batiste in Concert at Sandler Center for the Arts

Mark Robbins By

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New Orleans is the home to some of the most musical families in the United States. Barbarian, Marsalis, Andrews, Jordan, Neville and Boutte just to name a few. Another, the Batiste Family has scattered to other cities across the country, there are still some in New Orleans, and the current band leader with his band, Stay Hungry, on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert is piano phenom Jon Batiste. The Julliard trained pianist is equally at home trading his piano for a Melodica and even a tambourine!

At the Sandler Center for the Arts Batiste played all three to the delight of the eager audience some of whom were allowed, for a price, to sit on stage during the performance. Batiste started the show standing center stage under a spotlight as he played the Melodica then made his way down into the audience while still playing. Once back at the piano Batiste explained he had nothing planned for the evening's show. He would play whatever popped into his head, an exercise he does at home every day. He calls it "stream of consciousness" playing, reimagining such songs as "St. James Infirmary," "The Star Spangled Banner," and "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Mixed in with these was a little Chopin and a beautiful vocal version of "What a Wonderful World." Batiste is a tour de force who does the family name proud.
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