Pianist and composer Jon Batiste is perhaps best known as the bandleader on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, where he’s loved as much for his comical banter as he is for his gleeful performances. His monumental new album, We Are, shows another side, with profound reflections on race and identity in America and a soul-stirring mix of gospel, jazz , funk and more. Features include a New Orleans marching band, a gospel choir, novelist Zadie Smith, Trombone Shorty and others. We open this week’s New Music Friday with the album’s title cut and talk about why, as WBGO’s Nate Chinen says, “this is the album we’ve been waiting for from Jon Batiste.”
Also, on the program: Country legend Loretta Lynn returns with a mix of originals and newly recorded standards for her fiftieth studio album, plus rapper Benny the Butcher, the euphoric Sydney rock band Middle Kids, the DJ and producer Vegyn and more. Nate Chinen of WBGO and Jazz Night in America joins NPR’s Lars Gotrich, contributors Jewly Hight and Christina Lee, Radio Milwaukee’s Tarik Moody and NPR’s Stephen Thompson, along with host Robin Hilton as they share their picks for the best new albums out on March 19.