Residents of Williamsburg were treated to a raucous surprise Tuesday evening as jazz pianist and bandleader Jon Batiste hit Bedford Avenue with his band and instruments in tow. As the sun fell, with little warning (which came by way of some tweets), the sextet marched down the sidewalk, up stoops, in and out of restaurants and through the streets, gathering an increasingly large and gleeful pack of spectators who seemed unable to believe their luck. At times, as many as 50 people were caught up in the moment, clapping, singing, and (of course) shooting video and taking selfies.

This kind of off-the-cuff, mobile concert comes naturally to Batiste, who last week was confirmed as the new bandleader of CBS's The Late Show when it reboots in September with Stephen Colbert. Batiste is a native of New Orleans and has made the city's uplifting jazz funeral tradition a staple of his performances; the ensemble frequently moves from the stage to the audience and out into the street at Batiste's concerts, inciting what he's come to call a "love riot."

"Social Music is about bringing people together," Batiste told Gothamist. "This love riot was another example of how the music can do that."

That's exactly what happened on Bedford Tuesday night, as Batiste and his Stay Human ensemble, augmented by young pianist Kris Bowers, did their thing. Performing jazz standards including "St. Louis Blues," and his own original material, Batiste was flanked by at least one videographer with a professional steadycam rig, begging the question—might this have been one big promo shoot? A staged "love riot" for some Late Show b-roll, or an ad for multinational banking corporation JPMorgan Chase? In that moment, at least, it didn't really matter—the funk felt just right.


Jon Batiste on Bedford Ave.by Gothamist

Batiste currently has a residency going on at the Nomad Hotel—you can find the dates on his website.