Jon Batiste has just released a new album, Hollywood Africans.
Named for a work of art by Jean-Michel Basquiat, the record is Batiste’s most personal work yet, he told Billboard. Produced in his hometown of New Orleans, it’s steeped in the musician’s personal history and cultural heritage.
The musical multi-hyphenate, who leads the house band of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, first began work on Hollywood Africans in 2015. But the seeds were planted two years before that, when he met legendary producer T Bone Burnett at a party thrown by Bono.
“We talked about the history of American music and the roots all last night,” Batiste recalled. “We just really hit it off in a way that definitely led to this project.” Burnett ended up co-producing the album.
Earlier in the week, Batiste performed “Don’t Stop” and “What a Wonderful World” live on The Late Show, ahead of the album’s release. He also explained what he hopes listeners will take away from the music: “These days, stuff is very, very tough to deal with. I want people to have a meditation that doesn’t result in despair but hope.”
Stream the album below: