Jon Batiste Appears as Stephen Colbert’s Band Leader

Jon Baptiste left his role as band leader in Late Show with Stephen Colbert after seven seasons.

According to a statement from CBS announcing his departure, Batiste has decided to “pursue personal and professional interests.”

Colbert even addressed Batiste’s exit during Thursday’s episode of Late Show. “We have been very fortunate to have had a front row seat to Jon’s extraordinary talent for the past seven years,” Colbert said. “And will we miss him here? ‘Ooaaaa!’ But we’re happy for you, Jon, and I can’t wait to have you back as a guest on your next hit record.

Batiste was not present for Thursday’s episode — nor has he been for most of the summer. Starting last May, Batiste went on vacation to Late Show to take care of his wife, Suleika Jaouad, who is fighting leukemia for the second time. The couple got married earlier this year, a day before Jaouad received a bone marrow transplant.

Louis Cato has been serving as interim bandleader in Batiste’s absence, and tonight he was promoted to the position in a permanent capacity.

“Louis has done very well this summer, and he’s very humble, so he won’t say it. But I will. He’s a musical genius,” said Colbert. “He can play every instrument out there. Give him an afternoon, he’ll learn how to play Mozart on a shoehorn.

Cato has been part of Colbert’s house band since the show premiered in 2015. His resume also includes session work with Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, John Legend, Talib Kweli, and more.

For Batiste, the past three years have brought a great amount of professional success outside of his work at Late Show. In 2020, he won an Academy Award for his musical contributions to the Pixar film loose. And earlier this year, he won five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for his latest solo album, We Are. Colbert suggested that Batiste is currently working on a new album.

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