Like many musicians in New Orleans, Jamal Batiste comes from a musical family. Musicians in the Batiste clan include his father, David, a music teacher and leader of the Gladiators; older brother Russell, an acclaimed drummer; and cousin Jon Batiste, leader of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert band.
Batiste is an all-music embracing drummer, singer, composer, arranger, producer, engineer and mixer. He also played the drummer Get On Up, the Chadwick Boseman-starring bio-pic about James Brown.
Batiste’s versality manifests itself in All Rock’d Up, his latest recording. The seven-song EP features hip-hop, rock, rap, rhythm and blues and prog-rock. Genre mashups by Linkin Park and Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons as well as Run-DMC and Aerosmith inspired the project. “I’m introducing that from a different view, coming from New Orleans,” Batiste said. “Because rock ‘n’ roll went everywhere else, rock was already taking place here in New Orleans.”
Leo Nocentelli, the 2018 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award–winning guitarist and member of the Meters, hipped Batiste to how influential music from New Orleans has been for many decades.
“I’ve been blessed to work with Leo,” Batiste said. “He took me under his wing and informed me about records from New Orleans that have been sampled so many times. And my father’s song, ‘Funky Soul,’ was sampled by P.M. Dawn (“So On and So On”). New Orleans is everywhere. On the pop charts, the hip-hop charts, rock charts, R&B charts.”
Through his All Rock’d Up EP, Batiste wants to reach all generations. “You can still hear the essence of New Orleans,” he said. “Our elders can understand and see where it’s coming from, but it can also appeal to the youth and young adults.”
Batiste formed his first band at 7 or 8 years old. “When I was 3, I remember watching my oldest brother, Russell, set up a drum kit. To me, it was like building beautiful architecture. I was drawn to it. And I watched Russell’s hands playing grooves, moving fast. And then I went over to the drum kit, picked up the sticks and sat on the stool. I couldn’t reach the bass drum foot pedal, but I made it work anyway. I started playing. I just knew it was something I wanted to do.”
Music, in the myriad forms Batiste creates it, is much more a calling than a job. “It’s a blessing from God himself,” he said. “Not only is it a blessing to me, but it’s a gift to Planet Earth. Because music is a powerful tool. It can help heal people. It can hurt people, too. I want to help and heal people. I want to use music right.”
Friday, April 13, 12:30p
Jack Daniel’s Stage