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Jon Batiste leaves Stephen Colbert’s ‘The Late Show’

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Jon Batiste, whose career soared after winning multiple Grammy Awards this year, is stepping down as bandleader for the late-night talk show “The Late Show” after seven years backing host Stephen Colbert.

“We’ve been very lucky to have a front row seat to Jon’s incredible talent over the last seven years,” Colbert said on Thursday’s show. “But we’re happy for you, Jon, and I can’t wait to have you back as a guest with your next hit record.”

Louis Cato, who served as interim bandleader this summer, will take over permanently when the show returns for its eighth season. He has been on the show since its launch. Cato has worked with artists such as Beyoncé, Mariah Carey and John Legend and is currently working on a new album. Colbert called him a musical genius.

“He can play basically every instrument there,” Colbert said. “Give him an afternoon, and he’ll learn to play Mozart with a shoehorn.”

Batiste has toured the world with his band Stay Human and made a memorable stop on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” in 2014. When the producers of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” considered having a local band the following year, Batiste and Stay Human were a natural choice.

The mutual respect that Colbert and Batiste had for each other was obvious. The bandleader would often cheer on the comedian’s late-night monologue from the piano, appearing in segments, and accompanying musical guests. Batiste kept his work going even during the pandemic, creating tunes, both originals and covers, on the spot.

The multi-instrumentalist won five Grammy Awards this year. He composed music, advised and arranged songs for Pixar’s “Soul,” an animated midlife crisis film mixed with New York jazz fantasy and body-swapping comedy. He won a Golden Globe for music along with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross; and the trio also won the Oscar for Best Original Score. For his work on “Soul,” Batiste, Reznor and Ross won the Grammy for best soundtrack for visual media.

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AP journalist David Bauder contributed to this report.

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