On Thursday night, Stephen Colbert announced that bandleader Jon Batiste is leaving “The Late Show.” It’s not a big surprise; Batiste has been on a roll, with an Oscar in 2020 for the score of “Soul” and five Grammys this year, including Album of the Year (for “We Are”).
“It’s for all the best reasons,” Colbert said, “including to continue sharing his art with the world.”
Batiste came to “The Late Show” when Colbert took over as host in 2015, and he quickly became an integral part of its high energy. The Louisiana native was always ready with a keyboard riff to punch up one of Colbert’s jokes. He established himself as one of the genre’s more memorable bandleaders, alongside the likes of Max Weinberg (“Late Night With Conan O’Brien”) and Doc Severinsen (“The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson”).
Louis Caro, who has been filling in for Batiste this summer, will become the show’s permanent new bandleader. The rest of the house band, called Stay Human under Batiste, will be renamed The Late Show Band. Colbert’s eighth season begins on Sept. 6.
“We’ve been so lucky to have a front-row seat to Jon’s incredible talent for the past seven years,” Colbert said of Batiste. “And will we miss him here? YEAH! But we’re happy for you, Jon, and I can’t wait to have you back on as guest with your next hit record. I love you.”
Matthew Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.