Jon Batiste Will Lead ‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert’ Band in a Style He Sees Fit

September 7, 2015 8:51 PM

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Jon Batiste Will Lead ‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert’ Band in a Style He Sees Fit

There comes a point in almost any scheduled performance by Jon Batiste when he pops up from the piano and strides into the crowd, tootling his melodica, a toylike wind instrument, with bandmates in tow. It’s a trademark shtick that happens to carry a whiff of the authentic, given Mr. Batiste’s lifelong familiarity with New Orleans second-line parades. Naturally, it was one of the factors that led to his role as bandleader on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” which makes its debut on CBS on Tuesday.

Mr. Batiste, 28, has a lanky frame, a dandyish flair and a breezy disregard for genre pieties. It’s easy to picture him acclimating fast to a late-night talk show, even if the stubborn constraints of the format seem at odds with his brand of free-range spontaneity. The “love riot” — his favored term...

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