On October 15th, Jon Batiste — bandleader, pianist, singer, songwriter, composer and descendant of New Orleans musical “royalty” (NY Times) — and his group Stay Human released their debut full-length album Social Music on Razor & Tie. In anticipation of the release, the group took to the streets of New York earlier this month for one of their favorite pastimes — bringing music to the people. The Awl followed along to capture some GIFs and get swept up in the excitement.
The evening began in the library at The Nomad on Broadway, where a group of the band’s friends and supporters gathered for cocktails. A young group meant a young crowd, eager to get involved.
When Jon and the band arrived, cocktails hit any surface within reach and the clapping, stomping and whooping began.
After 15 minutes of partying in the library, Stay Human led the crowd onto the street, as they have been doing for years. The group has been a bit of a fixture in the New York streets, staging impromptu marches and performances on subway cars.
Led by Batiste and his band — tuba, saxophone and tambourine, later joined by a trumpet — the march filled up Broadway and headed toward Madison Square Park.
Occasionally stops were made to let the crowd gather and grow.
And the crowd gathered and grew and danced and stomped and hollered.
Curious passers-by became ardent fans.
Finally, its ranks significantly swelled since when it left the Nomad, the procession arrived at Eleven Madison Park to discover the party was just beginning. In the hotel lobby, the party would last late into the evening.
The band played sets around the grand piano, marched around the room and was occasionally joined by other musicians, including Questlove, who was on hand to DJ the event between sets and into the late night.
And the party went late into the night, past when all good Awl reporters should be in bed, the energy unabated.
Here’s hoping Stay Human can continue to plays show, throw parties, and — most importantly — engage this city in the pursuit of spontaneous joy for a long time. Thanks for letting us tag along.