It remains to be seen how (or even if) Stephen Colbert will shake up the late night talk show format when he takes over for David Letterman in September, but he’s keeping at least one of the hallmarks of the genre in place: The Late Show will have a house band. Colbert announced Wednesday that the Paul Shaffer to his Letterman will be Louisiana jazz musician Jon Batiste.
You may know Batiste, a 28-year-old Juilliard grad, as himself in Treme or from his previous appearances on the Colbert Report. When Batiste did Colbert’s show last year, he led a crowd outside into a street parade—it’s kind of his thing—while a clearly impressed Colbert danced along. These two already have an, uh, a Colbert rapport, if you will. (Sorry.)
Batiste will bring his band of 10 years, Stay Human, along with him as he steps into Shaffer’s old gig. They sound like this:
Wise move to pick a young, high-energy performer who seems to have synergy with Colbert, but also brings things to the show that Colbert can’t.
Every network late night show is still hosted by middle-aged white dudes, but that doesn’t mean their bands have to be. Batiste makes three black bandleaders on major shows, along with the Tonight Show’s Questlove and the Late Late Show’s Reggie Watts.
At 28, he’ll also be the youngest major player on any of the shows. The Late Late Show’s James Corden, 36, is practically a baby by late night standards, but Batiste makes him look like a toddler, at least.