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Shortly after their performance at Annenberg last Saturday night, Jon Batiste and the members of Stay Human had a late-night jam session at City Tap House. 

Credit: Ernest Monahan

Straight off “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Jon Batiste and Stay Human performed live last Saturday at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and shortly after at City Tap House.

As the 45th anniversary of the Annenberg Center approaches, Managing Director of the Annenberg Center Michael J. Rose announced a new venture: “African Roots, American Voices.” The multi-year series celebrates the African diaspora’s diverse contributions to American culture by offering high-quality and accessible live performances. For the 2015 through 2016 season, the focus will be on jazz, a wholly original American art form. To kick off the season, the series welcomed Batiste and his band, Stay Human, an embodiment of modern jazz.

More than 400 people filled the Zellerbach Theatre at the Annenberg Center to enjoy Jon Batiste and Stay Human’s concert. During the energetic performance, the crowd was on its feet for most of the show.

Batiste and his band are particularly known for actively engaging with audiences in an effort to encourage appreciation for live music. The band draws its name from the belief that human interactions at a live performance can counteract “plug in/tune out” nature of modern-day society. Either on tour or during time-off, the band can be seen spontaneously playing in non-traditional venues and starting live performances through the streets, which Batiste and the band have termed as “Love Riots.”

This past Saturday was no exception, with Batiste and the band interacting with the audience on several occasions and continuing the performance to City Tap House.

During his performance, Batiste said that at the end of the day, “social music” is about people who don’t have much but still express themselves through music. He believes that music is meant to be shared, particularly in an internet era when very little can be kept private.

When asked about “social music” at City Tap House, Batiste said, “It’s music without borders, music for the people and in terms of genre, it’s what I envision jazz to be like in the 21st century. Jazz 2.0.”

Trained at the Juilliard School, Jon Batiste is a singer, musician, educator and “harmonaboard” — a harmonica and keyboard hybrid ­— player from Kenner, La. Since September, Batiste has been the music director and bandleader for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

A recipient of the Movado Future Legends Award, Batiste has performed in cities around the world including New Orleans, London, Lisbon and Paris. He has also appeared as an actor in both film and television. Recently, he was appointed as the Associate Artistic Director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.

Batiste and Stay Human, including alto saxophonist Eddie Barbash, drummer Joe Saylor, tuba player Ibanda Ruhumbika and Louis Cato on guitar and vocals, blew the audience away. In one of the most memorable moments of the concert, they performed a spin to the classic American folksong “St. James Infirmary Blues,” originally made famous by Louis Armstrong.

Characteristic of Batiste’s theory on “social music,” the band held a late-night jam session at City Tap House surrounded by a cheering audience.

“It’s meant to be danced to. You can cry to it. You can laugh to it,” Batiste said. “And the thing about social music is it’s global right now. We’re not giving it away, we’re sharing it.”

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