Photo by Sing Chan.

Jon Batiste’s performance at the Kodak Hall this Saturday evening highlighted this year’s celebration of Meliora Weekend. Batiste is a reputed jazz musician who is known best for his role as the bandleader on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” His delightful music was an invitation to the members of the art community for a carnival of jazz.

As Batiste and his band members (Stay Human) presented themselves on stage, the audience welcomed them with convivial applauds. They appeared confident and excited to share their music with the community.

The jazz carnival began with Batiste’s newest album, “Anatomy of Angels.” The music was playful and inspiring, and took the audience on an adventure of imagination. Not one second of the music was plain or boring. The crowd was extremely impressed when Batiste played two pianos at the same time. 

“That’s so flashy,” an old man whispered.

Although Batiste was no doubt the star of the evening, it was apparent that his band members were also exceptionally skillful. Several of the band members had a chance to perform in solo during intervals of the songs, and each received enthusiastic and positive feedback from the audience.

“Don’t Stop” was the climax of the entire concert. This iconic piece emerges Batiste’s own style with Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” The song’s flow was enriched with a mellow and soulful style. The audience seemed to be galvanized by the emotional atmosphere that the band created — there was a slight silence before everyone awakened to respond with their admiration.

“It’s blues but it’s uplifting; it’s also classical with a Beethoven vibe,” Batiste said in the introduction, while playing the chords for “Don’t Stop.” 

What he really loved about this song is that it “keeps going, [again and again] … and it don’t stop.” Although Batiste made fun of the repetitiveness in his song, the audience seemed fond of the flow and enjoyed the most out of it.  

Before his evening in Rochester, Batiste and his band members were performing at New Hampshire the prior night and drove into town Saturday morning. He said it was a pleasure for him to perform for Rochester.

On top of Batiste’s impressive musical talent, he is still a charismatic man. His interactions with the crowd were friendly and humorous. 

Batiste’s passion for music inspired him to follow a path for performing with noble and loving purpose. “That’s what I love about music; it’s crazy,” Batiste said. “It’s great because […] it makes you feel no pain.”

He excitedly shared his recent experience at the Global Citizen Festival, an annual music festival to end extreme poverty, where he enjoyed performing in Central Park “with a lot of great artists and musicians for a great cause.”

Towards the end of the performance, Batiste and his band members walked down the stage while still playing their instruments. They led the audience outside of the Kodak Hall and eventually went outside the Eastman Theatre, playing on Gibbs Street. It was almost like the jazz version of the Pied Piper, and the street was flooded with audience members.

Batiste’s music and personality captivated everyone. Perhaps it is best to conclude the evening with an audience member’s exclamations:

 “I want to tell him to ‘don’t stop’ playing and keep going!”

Tagged: Meliora Weekend

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