By Tami Shaloum
Photos by Heather K.
|Jon Batiste and Stay Human at Summerstage 6.29.14|
On any given weekend in New York City, one can hear all kinds of live music played in a bar, concert hall, or some other venue. Fortunately, there are no walls surrounding Rumsey Playfield, where Jon Batiste and Stay Human played a dynamic hybrid of New Orleans jazz, bluegrass, rhythm and blues, and even a little ragtime last Sunday afternoon. Part of the City Parks Foundation’s SummerStage in association with the Blue Note Jazz Festival, the bill began with some funky hip hop and jazz from Hypnotic Brass Ensemble.
|The band begins with a familiar, relevant tune, "Summertime"|
As audience members swayed under the warm sun, Jon Batiste and his insanely talented band, Stay Human, filled Central Park with tunes ranging from the familiar to the original. Beginning with an evocative "Summertime," they definitely won over some fans, especially when saxophonist Eddie Barbash soared in with sultry accompaniment. The band was both really tight—in sync with each other from start to finish—and loose in all the right places, giving the almost two-hour set a playful, experimental feel as they danced around each other, then came together in unison.
|Batiste and Ruhumbika getting close with the crowd|
Tuba player Ibanda Ruhumbika and percussionist Joe Saylor rounded out the crew perfectly, imparting their expert musicality. Each member was remarkable, but it was Batiste who really stood out, playing the piano and melodica in an improvisational style that showcased both his classical training and jazz sensibilities. His charismatic band leading resulted in a really dynamic show, culminating in a nearly half-hour march through the audience. As they stopped in front of groups of grooving fans, one could see they were clearly having a ball.