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Jon Batiste Funks Up Carnegie Hall With Debut of His Grand ‘American Symphony’: Concert Review

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A.D. Amorosi What does one do for an encore after winning five honors at the 64th Grammys (including album of the year for “We Are“), an Oscar for best original score (for co-composing Disney-Pixar’s “Soul”) and leaving the bandleader gig at a top-rated talk show (“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”)?

If you’re protean pianist and megawatt personality Jon Batiste, you write a symphony — an”American Symphony” no less, its title raising the stakes on the grandeur of the piece that premiered at Carnegie Hall Thursday night. “If (the) symphony orchestra was invented in the 21st Century, what music would they play?” asked Batiste in an interview with “CBS Mornings” earlier this year (when “American Symphony” still had a May 2022 date, before the pianist got COVID and postponed its debut). “Who would be in the orchestra and how would that look, how would that feel?”What it would look like was answered by a 63-person-strong ensemble, plus Batiste, a vision in a crisp blue velvet suit who bounded down the hall’s aisles to make his entrance.

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