Stories » Jon Batiste walks us through a day in the life of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert / Vox

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Jon Batiste walks us through a day in the life of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert / Vox

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Jon Batiste makes some of TV's best music, night in and night out. As bandleader of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the multi-instrumentalist comes up with perfect tunes to introduce guests, to complement Colbert's jokes, and to keep the audience hyped up. (Many of the songs fitting that last category are Batiste originals, performed by him and his band, Stay Human.) But Batiste's career stretches far beyond late-night TV. He started out making music at a very young age in his hometown of Kenner, Louisiana, and since then, he's recorded a whole album in and around the New York subway system, performed all over the world, and appeared semi-regularly on HBO's series Treme.

His newest album, Hollywood Africans (out Thursday, September 28), is a combination of Batiste originals and terrific covers of iconic songs that he's put his own spin on, including "What a Wonderful World," Charlie Chaplin's "Smile," and the music from the first level of Sonic the Hedgehog.

I was thrilled to have Batiste join me this week on the latest episode of my podcast, I Think You're Interesting, and about halfway through our conversation, I realized something: For as much as I've covered late-night TV over the years, I have no idea what goes into a late-night musical director's job. So I asked Batiste, and it sounds like a lot of work.

READ THE Q&A