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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Hollywood Africans'
Artist - Jon Batiste

For those not in the know, Jon Batiste is an American musician, bandleader and TV personality.

He has recorded and performed with artists in various genres of music (Stevie Wonder, Prince, Willie Nelson, Lenny Kravitz, Ed Sheeran, and Mavis Staples), released recordings consistently since 2005 and performed in more than 40 countries.

Batiste regularly tours with his band Stay Human, and appears with them nightly as Bandleader and Musical Director on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Batiste also serves as the Music Director of The Atlantic and the Creative Director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.

The acclaimed bandleader, pianist and vocalist is the latest signee to Verve Records, and has just released his major label solo debut, Hollywood Africans on September 28th, 2018.

1. 'Kenner Boogie'
2. 'What A Wonderful World'
3. 'Chopinesque'
4. 'Saint James Infirmary'
5. 'Nocturne No.1 in D Minor'
6. 'The Very Thought of You'
7. 'Green Hill Zone'
8. 'Mr. Buddy'
9. 'Is it Over'
10. 'Smile'
11. 'Don’t Stop'

“On this record, I want us to bop, dance, laugh and cry together, unified as one people," Batiste has said, "while we also remember our black ancestral heroes and wield the superpowers they left us with."

Recorded in his hometown of New Orleans, the album is simply incredible to listen to (which I've done three times straight through now in reviewing it) and having been produced by the great T-Bone Burnett, I can only truly describe it as an homage to his musical heroes; whilst being an intimate portrait of the artist himself.

Indeed, the Hollywood Africans title comes from a 1983 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting. “Basquiat is an example of someone drawing from all his influences,” Batiste says, “who benefited from the sacrifices of those who came before him, but displayed that we have so much more to do—even though we’ve come a long way."

"It’s a critique of things we have had to go through, but that have allowed people like me and him the opportunities to do the things we’ve been able to do."

Lead single, and surprisingly the last track on the album, is 'Don't Stop,' an incredible meditative, piano-driven tune with swells of orchestral strings that live on long after the song has drifted away.

"This record is a release from the pressures I’ve felt as a black musician, and an homage to the long lineage of ancestors before me who managed to create transcendent art while often being forced to wear a mask and to dim their lights," Batists adds.

"They tapped into their God-given gifts while under absurd duress, remixing the culture into a fuller, newer, better, more united one. They left us with superpowers—blues, rock and roll, boogie woogie, jazz, gospel, and so many more—all of which suffuse this record. Because of them, I don’t have to wear a mask. I get to be who I am.”

CD Purchase Link

Jon Batiste @ Twitter!