Gems from Jon Batiste's gig at jazz mecca

The Village Vanguard has been a mecca for jazz musicians and fans for more than 80 years.

And recording a live album there is something of a rite of passage for serious musicians, so it is no surprise that Jon Batiste's second issue on the Verve label is a distillation of a six-night gig at the famed New York venue late last year.

At 36 minutes, this compact album runs a bit short, which begs the question of what was edited out.

It certainly cannot have been the quality of the music that was on offer. Backed by bassist Phil Kuehn and drummer Joe Saylor, and aided by a rotating roster of guests including saxophonists Patrick Bartley and Tivon Pennicott, the five tracks offer an eclectic blend of Batiste originals and two standards.

The Very Thought Of You is rearranged in classic Batiste fashion: The pianist offers velvety chords while guest singer Rachael Price coos in her husky mezzo for a sweet but not saccharine take on the ballad.

The opening track Creative offers Thelonius Monk-inspired fractured chords, and Batiste also takes on Round Midnight with elegant assurance, polishing off the jagged edges with gentler musical phrases than the master. It is such a pleasure to listen to a young talent who has obviously listened closely to the giants who came before.

  • JAZZ


    Jon Batiste


    Rating: 3.5 Stars

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2019, with the headline 'Gems from Jon Batiste's gig at jazz mecca'. Print Edition | Subscribe