A gifted, restless musician with boundless artistic ambition, Jon Batiste is never content with one take, one approach or one genre. His latest, Social Music, offers listeners beautiful, inventive new ways into jazz, R&B, gospel and soul.
Batiste and band, with their producer Jeff Jones, “The Jedi Master,” also took a novel approach to recording the new songs. “I had to figure out a format that would facilitate his creative direction. He’s like Prince in that he just keeps recording continually. He’s nonlinear, but he’s always brilliant.”
Jones (Wynton Marsalis, Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, etc.) and his team of engineers took what he describes as a cinematic approach to combining recordings that were made in a variety of home and commercial settings—instead of trying to force a kitchen session to sound like it was made in an ideal acoustical environment, he used different room sounds deliberately to shrink or broaden, or change the listener’s perspective.
“We’d be choosing pieces from different versions of the same song, and intercutting different versions of the song that came from different studios,” he explains. “So there’s a lot of time taken in post on something like this, combing through all the material. After ‘Jazz Man Speaks,’ for example, it goes into a something he did in his computer in GarageBand and then flips into something from an MP3, into 96k 32-bit, and you hear the whole thing open up. It’s like a camera view coming into full-resolution.”
Jones also arranged some live sessions, where the band performed before an audience, and he recorded using multiple devices and methods to give more of those “angles” to work with when it came time to mix. The goal, Jones says, was “to devise a system that facilitates an artist’s vision when the artist’s vision incorporates all known formats, at all known sampling rates.” “Jones is a visionary,” Batiste says. “He created a beautiful environment for us. He understands the vision I wanted to create and brought the project to the next level.”