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On the Beat: Jon Batiste and Stay Human bring jazz to the Englert this Thursday

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Jon Batiste and Stay Human
Batiste met members of Stay Human (pictured, with Batiste on the left) while training at Juilliard.

Jon Batiste & Stay Human

The Englert Theatre — Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. ($20-25)

Jonathan Batiste heads to The Englert Theatre alongside Stay Human this Thursday at 8 p.m. for an evening of uplifting, free-flowing jazz.

Batiste comes from a long musical lineage. While he originally began playing drums and percussion in The Batiste Brothers Band, Batiste transitioned to piano, the instrument that he is now best known for. Batiste trained at Juilliard where he further honed his craft. Juillard is also where he met the members of Stay Human: saxophonist Eddie Barbash, bassist Phil Kuehn, drummer Joe Saylor and tubist Ibanda Ruhumbika.

The name Stay Human comes from the band’s belief that live musical performances can uplift humanity. There is certainly some truth to this statement as Batiste and Stay Human play truly uplifting music. Given the extensive musical training of the band, the fact that they pull from many different genres is less than surprising.

The primary anchor of the band’s sound is jazz, in particular its soloing and free-flowing structure. Batiste and his band add to this by incorporating elements of blues, R&B, gospel and classical. The result is a sound that is compelling and very engaging, creating a positive reaction within listeners—a dynamic that continues in their live shows where the performance style can vary.

Batiste plays songs by himself then some with the band. Batiste will then switch over to playing the melodica, an instrument that is prominently featured in Cake’s “The Distance” and Depeche Mode’s “Everything Counts.” While this could be chintzy, Batiste brings out the true musicality of the instrument. Fans of jazz, uplifting music and Trombone Shorty — who trained with Batiste in New Orleans — will find much to enjoy here.

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