Jon Batiste Exits as Stephen Colbert’s Band Leader

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The post Jon Batiste Exits as Stephen Colbert’s Band Leader appeared first on Consequence.

Jon Batiste is leaving his role as band leader of Late Show with Stephen Colbert after seven seasons.

According to a statement from CBS announcing his departure, Batiste has decided “to pursue personal and professional interests.”

Colbert further addressed Batiste’s exit during Thursday’s episode of the Late Show. “We’ve been so lucky to have a front row seat to Jon’s incredible talent for the past seven years,” Colbert remarked. “And will we miss him here? ‘Yeaaa!’ But we’re happy for you, Jon, and I can’t wait to have you back on as guest with your next hit record.”

Batiste was not in attendance for Thursday’s episode — nor has he been around for much of the summer. Beginning in May, Batiste took a leave of absence from the Late Show in order to care for his wife, Suleika Jaouad, who is battling leukemia for the second time. The couple got married earlier this year, the day before Jaouad received a bone marrow transplant.

Louis Cato has been serving as interim bandleader in Batiste’s absence, and this evening he was promoted to the position in a permanent capacity.

“Louis has done a great job this summer, and he is very humble, so he won’t say this. But I will. He’s a musical genius,” Colbert said. “He can play basically every instrument over there. Give him an afternoon, he’ll learn how to play Mozart on a shoehorn.”

Cato has been a part of Colbert’s house band since the show’s premiere in 2015. His resumé also includes session work with Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, John Legend, Talib Kweli, and more.

For Batiste, the past three years have brought a tremendous amount of professional success outside of his work on the Late Show. In 2020, he won an Academy Award for his musical contributions to the Pixar film Soul. And earlier this year, he won five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for his latest solo album, We Are. Colbert suggested that Batiste is currently at work on a new album.

Jon Batiste Exits as Stephen Colbert’s Band Leader
Alex Young

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