Jon Batiste offered a lively, soulful rendition of his track “Freedom” on The Late Late Show, giving the song a retro vibe for the performance. The song, which comes off Batiste’s new album We Are, got some accompaniment from backup singers who appeared on vintage TV sets behind the singer.
The performance was shot at the Orpheum Theatre in his hometown of New Orleans and was directed and choreographed by Jemel McWilliams.
We Are came out in March and features appearances from Mavis Staples, Quincy Jones, Zadie Smith, PJ Morton, Trombone Shorty, and more.
“I’m publicly known for some things already,” Batiste said of the album. “But there’s so much more to know about me. It’s always been there. Now is the time to show the world my full artistry.”
He added that the album “is a message of love for humanity, of humble reverence for our past, and of a hopeful future, in which we are the ones who can save us. The art reveals its motive to you. You just have to wait for the spirit to tell you what it wants.”
Batiste is nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Score alongside Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for his work on Pixar’s Soul. The musician recently joined the film’s co-writer and director Kemp Powers for Rolling Stone‘s Spoken Dialogue series, where they discussed introducing jazz to a younger generation.
“That feeling is what makes jazz so special: It’s literally the thing that’s happening as you’re watching it, right in front of you,” Batiste said of his love of the genre. “It’s the most modern art form because it’s happening a millisecond at a time.”