American Symphony (2023) Movie Script

- (water trickling)
- (man humming)
(geese honking)
(melodica playing)
(Batiste) Since I was a child,
I was always making things.
My mind is always making things.
Just continues to become more
and more of a survival mechanism
as the years move on.
It's the way I process
all the things in my life.
(piano notes playing)
(Colbert) Before we get to the
show, ladies and gentlemen,
Grammy nominations
were announced.
And the most honored artist
this year with 11 nominations
- is Mr. Jon Batiste right there.
- (cheering and applause)
(Colbert) Our bandleader,
ladies and gentlemen.
(continues playing piano)
(Colbert) Best Traditional
R&B Performance,
Best R&B Album, Best
Improvised Jazz solo,
Best Jazz Instrumental Album,
Best American Roots Performance,
Best American Roots Song, Best
Contemporary Classical Composition,
Best Score Soundtrack for Soul,
Best Musical Video for "Freedom,"
Record of the Year
for "Freedom,"
and Album of The
Year for We Are.
- Damn!
- (applause and cheering)
Come on.
(piano playing continues)
(Batiste) What we love about
music is not that it sounds good.
What we love about music is
that it sounds inevitable.
It's playing the thing that
we all know is unfolding.
Whether we want to
accept it or not.
And it's there always.
You just need to harness it.
Be open to it.
(car horns honking)
That sounds so
Happy New Year.
Happy New Year.
It's a new year.
We missed it.
To family and freedom.
To family and freedom.
Thank you.
(man singing on
recording) Should auld
- Acquaintance be forgot
- Acquaintance be forgot
- And never brought to mind?
- (vocalizing)
How are you feeling?
I'm tired, but I'm good.
acquaintance be forgot
And the days of
auld lang syne?
(woman on the
phone) Jon Batiste.
(Batiste laughs) Hey!
I heard you thinkin' about those
Grammys. Are you gonna represent?
Oh, my goodness, I thought it
was like an SNL bit or something
when the people were
saying, "Jon Batiste,
Jon Batiste, Folk Americana,
Jon Batiste, Classical,
Jon Batiste," like, are they
trying to prove a point or what?
And you're bringing so
much joy to all of us
because you're gonna be doing
American Symphony at Carnegie Hall.
Well, I just am honored to be able to
present something so... so large-scale
and, um, you know, it's my first
time doing a symphony premiere,
and it's really special because
for me, a symphony can be
something we haven't seen before
and that's what the goal of this is.
Basically like, okay, so if a Symphony
Orchestra was created in 2022,
what would that be?
What would the music that
it played sound like?
You'd have classical
musicians in there, for sure.
Avant-garde musicians, folk
musicians, jazz musicians.
There is room for
all of us to coexist.
There's a space for us all
to be different and quirky
and strange and
beautiful together.
That's what America is about. That's
the ideal where we should coexist
if we lived up to the things
that we say we are about.
We're gonna play it one time,
one night only, at Carnegie Hall.
(man on phone) All right,
beautiful, Jon, thank you so much.
Have a great one, everybody.
(Batiste) We need to get a few
different musical section leaders.
Right. Mm-hm.
Like concert masters for
Totally. Yeah. For each
individual little chorus.
- Exactly.
- Yeah, mm-hm, yeah.
I feel like, yeah, once we get, like,
the core, like, musical identity
of what's going on,
this is everything.
The output of this should be
one score that has everything
- Right.
- Um
And you know, there's some parts that,
you know, may not even look like a score.
There might be some that's just
- like a list of directions. Exactly.
- Directive.
- Exactly.
- Or, you know, pictures.
(chuckles) You know, whatever we end
up deciding is gonna work for that.
So, I think what will happen after that
is rehearsal and then we'll do more edits.
- Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
- Final edit.
It go (vocalizing)
(man) Yeah.
You can do, like the
chant they do, like
(vocalizing and playing piano)
Yeah, that... That's
what I'm saying.
- (man) Yeah, yeah.
- That's what I was thinking about.
- So good. Yeah.
- And then you get that...
- Yeah. Yeah.
- There's a moment where it's like that.
And then you can have that going while
the, the um... the (piano playing)
- Yeah.
- I forgot what the bassline is,
but yeah, where that
other part comes in.
Yeah, whoo.
Man, that's gonna be a really
cool sound and what a way
- Whoo! Whoo!
- of opening. Oh, my God.
- What!
- (man) Yes.
- Whoo. Oh.
- Ahh
It go, "Hey, ya, hey
ya" (vocalizing)
(piano playing)
(man chuckles)
(Batiste) My ambition for
composing this symphony is massive.
I'm trying to expand the
canon of symphonic music.
Break through long
gate-kept spaces.
And all without having the space in
my life carved out to focus on it.
(announcer) Jon Batiste!
(applause and cheering)
(funky music playing)
(trumpet playing)
(Batiste) I always knew
I wanted to be a leader.
I was always driven to do some
version of what I'm doing now.
It's just evolved
and gotten freer.
Growing up in New Orleans, music
was always a part of the family.
- (Batiste laughing)
- (lively jazz playing)
My dad was my first
musical mentor.
My mother, she really believed in
classical piano as a foundation.
"Know your craft.
Do your thing."
And at one point,
I had to decide.
Stay. Find my way as
a musician back home,
or go to college
and do something.
So that's how I
ended up at Julliard.
Juilliard. You get to this place
and it's very classical culturally.
European classical music.
It's not a Black Southern
thing by any means.
They were looking at me, like,
"Who is this kid from New Orleans?"
(jazz music playing)
First thing I did when I got to
Julliard was get a regular gig
and put together a band.
Nobody understood what we were
trying to do with Stay Human.
Why was this band even
called Stay Human?
Why are they playing
on the subway for free?
Why's he playing a child's toy
instrument and not the piano?
Why's he wasting his talent?
Everything was met with
pushback, pushback, pushback.
From Julliard. From everybody.
I was there for seven years.
Very young.
And then to see what's changed.
To see that mural and
you see the melodica.
That's the instrument they
told me to stop playing,
that's when they sent
me to the psychiatrist
they're like, "He
might be crazy."
(chuckles) And now
there's a mural.
It's just, like beyond.
I always marched to
the beat of my own drum
for better or for worse.
And I knew from the beginning,
I didn't fit into this.
I... I needed to create
my own situation.
My own space, my own world.
(drums playing)
When I was at Julliard,
Stay Human would get invited
into all of these alternate
universes in New York City
just from playing on
the streets and subways.
The first time I met Questlove,
Lenny Kravitz, Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Then Lenny tells Madonna, "Hey, we've got
this kid, Jon Batiste from New Orleans."
It's so surreal.
You gotta understand, I was
living in Washington Heights
eating Goya beans for
dinner every night.
- (melodica playing)
- (crowd whooping)
It was, like, free. (laughs)
(music, cheering continue)
Hi, I'm Stephen Colbert down
in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Thank you very much.
And people keep asking me who
my band leader's gonna be.
Well, I like this guy.
Hi, I'm Jon Batiste.
(Batiste) And all of a
sudden. Bang. The Late Show.
Like BC, AD.
I mean it completely pulled
me out of that world.
I became somebody who was
in a castle somewhere.
(Colbert) Jon, I love the music,
thanks for being my band leader.
- Are you having a good time up there?
- Yeah, good job, man, it pays well.
(laughs) Good to know, man.
- Yeah.
- Good to know.
- But obviously, you do it for the love.
- I love it, man, I love money.
(Batiste) Everything changed.
It was like, how did I get here?
(automated voice) Twelfth floor.
I'm glad to see everybody here on the
Zoom, and I just wanted to explain
a little bit about the piece
that we're embarking upon and
how important it is to me.
"American Symphony"
is the working title.
I've been working on this
for almost four years.
There's a four movement,
40-minute piece of music
already composed,
but it's not done because
I don't have the input
and the inspiration
from you all here.
(acoustic guitar playing
and voice and vocalizing)
I want you to feel
ownership of this piece
in the sense of bringing everything
that you know to the table.
(drums beating, voices singing)
You are the
incredible musicians.
If you feel like there's
something that you want to feature
Something that makes
you uniquely you.
That will be our
reference going forward.
Dawn day to dusk
The night, it comes for us
But we shall overcome
(Batiste) Music comes
from life experiences.
- Dawn day to dusk
- (raucous music playing faintly)
The night it comes
I call it social music.
Our ancestors got together just
like this in a circle to play music.
We play music to communicate
unspoken pain and joy.
I think we're gonna make
something truly remarkable
that I think will speak to
people on a very profound level.
The night, it comes for us
But we shall overcome
That's the... The vision.
Y'all are here and this is a blessing for
me so thank you so much for your time.
(man) Honored to be
a part of it, bro.
(slow, rumbling rhythm playing)
Now wail and cry.
- With the mouth?
- No, however you want.
(Batiste) I thrive on creating an
atmosphere where it's all on the line.
People, when they
have too much comfort,
music don't have
the right intensity.
Even in life, if you're too
comfortable, you don't evolve.
And hit that thing.
- (musical accents intensify)
- (trombone wailing)
Man. Yeah.
Do you think I'm gonna crack?
(man on phone) Can you just calm
your booties, please? (chuckles)
(Batiste) All of the
Black male ones crack.
At a certain level,
they all crack.
I know. I know.
Are you... are you
ever scared of that?
Yeah, that's a serious one.
'Cause you can see
where you're heading.
Yeah, make me almost
not wanna do it.
No, you don't mean that,
you want it too much.
- You're gonna be all right.
- What you... What you see in me?
- That, uh
- I see that...
I see that you're doing
it and you're shaking it,
and you're getting there,
and you're moving it.
But what do you see in me as
the, uh... the potential crack?
If you did crack, you'd crack
privately and get back together again.
Well, first I gotta...
I gotta make it.
Well, you made it. You made it.
But am I gonna crack?
If I keep on going, rising
up high, am I gonna crack?
(geese honking)
(Batiste) I've never
been sledding before.
(woman laughs)
- Wondering what the purpose of it is.
- (man on phone) Definitely need a slo-mo.
- Yes.
- So you get his whole face, like
(Batiste) What am I supposed
to do with that? (chuckles)
You have to release,
you have to surrender.
I like to live a
little on the edge.
(man on phone) Me, too.
You secretly like
it, Jon, admit it.
- He does.
- He does... You can see it in his eyes.
He likes... He likes to
pretend like he's against it,
but he secretly
loves the thrill.
- (Batiste) Oh, no.
- (laughs) So
I don't wanna do that.
- Oh.
- (Jaouad) It's gonna be so fun.
I'll watch you do it.
- We're gonna do it together.
- No.
All you have to do is just sit.
Jon has never gone
sledding before.
(man) Perfect.
(Jaouad) All right, Jon.
(Batiste) Mm-mm.
- You want me to push you?
- No, I want you to sit behind me.
No, I'm gonna sit on the front.
It's cold.
I'm cold and uncomfortable.
(Jaouad laughs)
- (Jaouad) Uh-oh.
- (Batiste) What happened?
- (Jaouad laughs) Stay to this rate.
- Huh?
(Batiste) Ah!
(both laughing)
My goodness.
Get it.
Oh, sorry, boo.
Nobody can hit me with snowballs,
I have leukemia. (laughs)
(Batiste) What you
gonna do with that?
- I don't know, just
- Put your weapon down.
- (Jaouad) Whoo!
- (man) Ow!
- Okay, this game is over.
- (woman) This game is over.
The game is over and you
(Jaouad laughing)
Whoo, it's cold. Hoo!
(Batiste) I'm always
in awe of Suleika
and how she deals with hardship.
Of overcoming the odds.
It's nothing short
of miraculous.
It really inspires me.
At 22 years old, I was
diagnosed with leukemia.
(piano playing)
And when I was sick, I
vowed that if I survived,
it had to be, to live a good
life, an adventurous life,
a meaningful one.
(woman) Writer Suleika Jaouad
shared her journey with cancer
with millions in a popular
New York Times column
called Life Interrupted.
(man) Her bestselling book is
titled Between Two Kingdoms,
a memoir of life interrupted.
(Jaouad) Long before we were
in a romantic relationship,
Jon and I shared a
creative language.
We both see survival as its
own kind of creative act.
It's what helps us alchemize the
different things that come up in life
and transform them into
something useful and meaningful,
and even beautiful.
(Batiste) I learn from her all the
time, to look into darkness and despair,
and face it.
But you can't let
it consume you.
(piano playing)
- (strikes final piano note)
- (phone chimes)
(man on phone)
Hello? How are you?
I'm okay, you know.
Tell me everything or
nothing, whatever you
Oh, God.
It's been a tough
couple of months,
but, um, I get admitted a week
from today for about a month,
maybe a month or two.
Depending on the day, I feel
terrible or okay. (laughs)
But I feel in good spirits, today
was a good day, we went sledding
which was fun (fades)
(ambient music playing)
(Jaouad) It feels so
eerie to have cancer again
after nearly ten
years of remission
and to be getting a second
bone marrow transplant.
A last resort option and
a really risky procedure.
It's a bizarre
moment in our lives.
My first day of chemo, his 11
Grammy nominations were announced.
We've both had so many good things
happening in the last couple of months
and so many incredibly
hard things.
I honestly don't know how
to hold such extremes.
(Jaouad on the phone) Can I show
you something? I'm having an issue.
(Batiste) Yeah.
My port is bleeding.
She thinks it's because
my platelets are low,
but I have to keep an eye on it.
Otherwise, I'll
have to go in. Yeah.
You wanna go in now? Because
we could just come back.
Absolutely don't. I'm fine.
It's stopped bleeding.
That happened a little
bit the first time.
It piled up.
Okay, let's just
keep an eye on it.
Do you genuinely like the dresses I
tried on, or should I go shopping?
I like them a lot. I like
the sequined one a lot.
- Best?
- Best out of the two that I saw, yes.
(quirky funky music playing)
(man) Anything in particular
that you want in there?
In the blessing? Family,
freedom and health.
(Jaouad) It's all
gonna come together.
I'm very much in
survival mode right now.
I feel like we're living
a life of contrasts.
(Batiste) Why, what do you mean?
It's just a lot.
(piano playing)
Yeah. So this... These
are just the skeletons
of each section.
- (man) So
- Theme, bassline.
So with the symphony there's
an aspect of optimism to it.
- Yup.
- There's a... It's a... It's, um
- Sunrise. And then
- Mm-hm.
- (piano refrain plays)
- The other thing
- (humming the melody)
- Mm-hm.
- There, you get the... (laughs)
- (man) Yeah.
Come into the space.
Ooh, that's nice.
(piano playing)
Man, what is that?
- Sounds like something.
- I know. (chuckles)
(piano and trombone
play together)
What is that?
(resumes playing piano)
That's important,
man, that thing.
- Where it feels familiar at home
- Yes.
When it feels like something,
but it's not something.
- Yeah.
- That's when you know it's good.
- Yeah.
- Feels like you've heard it before.
- Right, right.
- But it's actually new.
- Yeah. (laughs)
- That's the best.
Oh! (vocalizes)
(piano and trombone
play together)
In marriage, a new
family is established.
And as the scriptures themselves state,
these two shall become one flesh,
for the benefit of one another,
for the flourishing of society,
and to the glory of God.
Suleika and Jon, I ask you
now in the presence of God,
and these witnesses, to
declare your intention.
So Jon, repeat after me. I, Jon,
take you, Suleika, to be my wife.
I, Jon, take you,
Suleika, to be my wife.
I, Suleika, take you,
Jon, to be my husband.
To have and to hold
from this day forward.
For better or for worse.
(Jaouad) For richer
or for poorer.
(Batiste) In sickness
and in health.
To love, honor,
cherish, and protect.
- Till death do us part.
- Till death do us part.
(wedding officiant) These
rings you have selected
are token of your
marriage covenant.
(all laughing)
May the Lord bless
these rings to be a sign
of the vows by which the two of you
are joining your lives together.
So now, I announce to you that
they are husband and wife.
Those whom God has joined together,
let no one separate. Amen.
(man) Amen.
Jon, you may kiss your bride.
(whooping and clapping)
(shutter clicks)
(indistinct dialogue)
- Join the club.
- (laughs)
(Batiste) We met in the
Skidmore summer jazz camp.
(Jaouad) And we were
very awkward teenagers.
(Batiste) She had
the bass and books.
And Birkenstocks.
It's an energy.
(all laughing)
And she was saying all
these crazy things.
To me, like, she don't
even really know me really.
But it was like, "We're
gonna take over the world."
- "Change the world."
- (Jaouad) Oh, yeah, I remember.
- (Batiste) Yeah, I'm into that.
- (Jaouad) I think you and I were, like
I will say this about Jon.
Jon has the greatest
capacity for change
and improvisation
and growth, of
anyone I've ever met.
This is a moment that calls us to
embody what our relationship is.
It's not, you know, all
champagne and beautiful things,
but it's the hard things.
(Batiste) And Suleika,
you're such a survivor.
I just think that we should
celebrate not just this relationship,
but who you are and what
you're about to come through.
Though near or far
Like the song of love
That clings to me
How the thought of
you Does things to me
Never before
Has anyone been more
In every way
And forever more
(doctor) Hello. Hi.
I'm Doctor Ghosh, I'm the
attending on the BMT service.
We're here for a transplant.
- (Jaouad) Yeah.
- I know you've gone through this before,
it's been a decade back.
A second transplant can be a
little more difficult sometimes
- (Jaouad) Yeah.
- but we're all here to take care of that.
Expected, unexpected.
- All right, thank you very much.
- Thank you.
(Jaouad) Thank you so much,
I really appreciate it.
What is the age range on
this floor, would you say?
(nurse) Age range, uh Eh
Average is like, 50 to 70.
- Mm-hm.
- We have the outliers.
Last time, I was... I remember being
struck by that because I was 22.
What can I do for you?
(Batiste) Nothing. Heal.
I remember feeling a lot
more scared last time.
I don't know if it's
because I'm older.
And just like more together.
Or because I know
what to expect.
Or because I'm in total denial.
What do you think it is?
(Batiste) Mm.
- Time moves on.
- Mm-hm.
(indistinct chatter)
- Too much sauce right now.
- How you feeling?
Man, we in it, let's do it.
- I'm so glad we could link this up.
- Same. Happy to be here.
Yeah, when Matt gave me
that call, I was like,
- no thinking, no hesitation. Yes.
- Oh, man.
(sampled female voice)
Better in a greater world.
Better in a greater world
for all people. Better
in a greater world...
I've gotta get used to
the delays of each one.
Okay, so the 4/4 is in two,
the 5/8 is gonna be
a three plus two.
So that's later on,
5/8, three plus two.
The 3/2 will be in
three. Big beats.
(vocalizing rhythm) All right?
I've never seen a conductor
in Jordans before.
Whoop. Sorry.
Hello, everybody.
Hello, thank you all for
being here everybody.
I love you all, thank you
so much for playing this.
This is gonna be a
work in progress.
It's gonna sound how it sounds
until it sounds how it sound.
(scattered laughter)
So, let's just play
what's on the paper,
and it's probably not gonna be
what's on the paper 100 percent,
but we'll start
there. So let's do it.
(orchestral music playing)
(Batiste) You have to confront
the brutal facts of the reality
that you might not pull it off.
But at the same time
have unwavering faith.
Completely unwavering faith.
And you have to do
both at the same time.
(Jaouad) Creativity is my way
of making sense of the world,
especially during
difficult moments.
When I entered the
transplant unit,
one of the medications
caused my vision to blur,
and instead of being able to
reach for the things I love most,
writing and words,
I realized I was going to have to
find a different mode of expression.
That became painting.
Can I quickly show you a sneak
peek of my newest painting?
Whoa. Wow.
Wait. Mmm.
You like?
I love it.
You're really dealing
with this, like,
fever dream, Noah's Ark,
slightly angelic, slightly
apocalyptic, dystopian,
kind of symbolic, Biblical
dreams. (chuckles)
Yes, that's what I'm going for.
It seems like it's becoming
a series or a project.
I love that idea.
All right, love.
Enjoy the water.
You're in the womb
space right now.
That's what it is.
I think I gotta go to work, I
might miss work with a pool.
- Okay, okay, go to work. Bye. (chuckles)
- (chuckles)
(hip-hop playing on speaker)
I'm not Black, I'm OJ
You're okay
(Batiste) There's an article
about how I shouldn't be nominated
for a Grammy in classical music,
because I'm a pop musician,
like that's the outrage.
- (man) You're a musician's musician.
- (chuckles)
That's fantastic. That
should be celebrated.
That we decided to put a classical
composition on the album,
that's not a classical album.
Which is even scarier for them
because that means classical
is not this, like, conventional
pigeonhole situation.
So in one article, I'm
an industry darling
(man) Mm-hm.
competing against Taylor
Swift and Olivia Rodrigo
and in the other article, I'm
infuriating classical musicians
because I'm nominated for a
Grammy in classical music,
and I'm not classical enough
because I'm a pop musician.
I don't know anything
about classical music.
I'm a pop musician.
I don't play music.
I'm an industry
darling pop star.
I don't know how to compose
and I'm a pop musician.
I'm an industry darling,
but I'm a jazz musician.
(toilet flushes)
Why be jealous of
anything at all, ever?
Why be jealous?
Be you.
(water running)
(man) Oh, what
is... What is this?
That's the symphony.
- Yeah?
- I'm putting it together.
Do you hear it?
Yes, it's lovely, can
you play a little more?
Yeah, yeah, I don't have
it all, um, it's in pieces.
I see, mm-hm.
I'm building it up, for jazz,
classical, all kinds of musicians
- Mm-hm.
- coming together.
That's good.
Do you remember when
I first came here?
Yes, I remember the first day.
- Yeah.
- I remember very well.
- Mm. Mm.
- I remember very well.
You tried to impress me with
a lot of... a lot of stuff.
- (laughs)
- And I complained about your sound.
- Yeah, I think I was 18 or something.
- Yes. (laughs)
- That was great.
- It was wonderful.
(teacher) Let's
play the Beethoven.
(Batiste) So, let's see.
It's like, um (piano playing)
Remember, with the...
the ringing tone?
You have to breathe,
you are not breathing.
You have to separate
with your hand.
(vocalizes the music)
Listen to what I'm saying.
How many times did I breathe?
- You breathe a lot.
- Yeah.
But you don't
process it that way.
No but you breathe a lot because
you are expressing something.
If you don't breathe,
it's like a computer,
it doesn't express anything.
You want life.
(teacher) Breathe.
Yes! That's it.
That... That has to sound
like a desperate scream.
- Ya, ya, ya! Like desperate.
- Mm, mm.
(Batiste) I usually
don't pay much attention
to articles other
people write about me.
I just don't like being
categorized as anything.
People often think
there's one or two ideas
of what a Black creative
should be doing.
And because people are just so used
to seeing those specific narratives,
then when they see something
else, it has to be dumbed down
for them to receive it.
The levels of our
achievements are diminished.
They're not seen as
a part of the canon.
And that's exactly what we're
pushing against with this symphony.
(funky beat playing)
(Jaouad) I'm starting to
feel a little torn down.
Come on. Nope.
You gotta keep the energy up.
No excuses.
So then.
("Lean On Me" by Bill
Withers playing over phone)
All right.
All right.
(Batiste) You can roll
How about Simon Says?
What's that game we play?
Somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem
That you'll understand
- (Batiste laughs)
- Feels good.
(poignant music playing)
(Batiste) I feel a strong, strong
desire to take the pain away.
But I can't.
This is a moment. A test.
And it's nobody's fault
and nobody can control it.
(Batiste) Channel disconnected.
- (monitor beeping)
- (Jaouad) I used to know how to do this.
(Batiste) What's disconnected?
Calm down, Scottie.
There'd be no Jon Michael
Batiste without Scottie Pippin.
(poignant music playing)
(drum beat playing)
(full band begins playing)
(music cuts out)
They said, just
tell it like it is
Love how you live
- I'm talkin' to you
- When you're doing what you do
Whoo-ow, yeah, yeah
- (music builds)
- (playing lively piano)
I want you to
tell it like it is
Love how you live When
you're doing what you doing
Just tell the truth
- Hey.
- (music fades)
Just wrapped. Headed to Phoenix.
- '(Jaouad) Oh, I miss you a lot.
- I miss you too.
(playing "Let It Be" on piano)
(all) Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Sleep, little
darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby
(Batiste)Hey, boo.
What's going on?
(Jaouad on the phone)
I'm not doing too well.
I've got a horrible
nausea, stomach cramps,
- (Batiste) Oh, that's really tough.
- I don't know.
Life is so brutal sometimes.
Hey sinnerman Where
you gonna run to?
Hey, sinnerman Where
you gonna run to?
Hey, sinnerman Where
you gonna run to?
All along that day
There's so much that's
going on in the world,
but I just wanna
invite you right now,
to leave it all behind.
There's so much, just...
Let's strip it away
and share in a beautiful moment of
genuine human exchange and love.
- (applause)
- Let's do that.
Well, I said "Rock, what's
the matter with you, Rock"
Don't you see,
I need you, Rock
(Jaouad on the phone) I just feel like
crap so I think my voice is breaking up.
(Batiste groans)
(Jaouad) Last night I
had horrible experiences.
(Batiste) What happened?
(Jaouad) My bed
filled with blood
because one of my
lumens got busted.
(Batiste) Oh, my goodness.
- (Batiste) Hey.
- (Jaouad on the phone) Hi.
(Batiste) What's happening?
(Jaouad) I've just been like,
painting and fleshing out these ideas.
Trying to get healthier.
(Batiste) Well, we need
to make that happen.
We are on the path.
(playing final high
notes on piano)
(applause and cheering)
(mouthing) Thank you.
And, um
I wanna dedicate this
last one to Suleika.
(piano intensifies)
(playing rapid arpeggios)
(breathing heavily)
(notes fade)
("Suite No. 3 in D Major"
by J. S. Bach playing)
Can we change the music, maybe it's
the music that's making me cry.
- Mm-hm.
- It feels emotionally manipulative.
(nurse) We can get
your cells hooked up.
Hi Lizzie G, hi, Lizzie P.
- Hi Su Su.
- (laughs)
I was telling Carmen that
I'm painting giraffes
because it's the only thing
that's preventing me from crying.
(woman) Aww, sweetheart, can I see
it? Put it closer to the camera.
(nurse) Two seconds. We're gonna
start... Ooh, exactly 10:10.
(Jaouad) Nice.
Should have waited till 11:11.
No, 10:10 is just as good.
(melodica playing)
Yeah, Carmen, I see
those shoulders moving.
(funky refrain playing)
I never had a dime
I'd be rich as Rockefeller
Da, da, da, da, da-dada
(Jaouad) All right Lizzie
Presser, get in there.
Da, da, da, da-da
Da, da-da da, da, da, da-da
(woman chuckling) Yay!
(Jaouad)Best bone
marrow transplant ever.
(indistinguishable overlapping
voices over computer)
(monitor beeping)
(whispers) Love you.
- (Jaouad) Where are you going?
- Mm?
- You leaving?
- Mm-mm.
(Jaouad murmurs)
(Batiste humming softly)
(breathing heavily)
(woman on phone) Right now
you're anxious and you're scared.
(Batiste) Yes. It's a lot.
So when you find yourself, I
just... I don't wanna move,
it's important to take your
mind to the place of intention.
I feel anxious, got my heart
beating, I feel like I can't breathe.
Whatever it is, but I'm going to go
to what I know I want to see happen,
rather than what's scaring
me, a terrible outcome.
You've got no energy whatsoever,
it doesn't help you at all.
At all. And come back to what
you know you want to see happen.
What do you do with yourself
today? What happens to you now?
It's gonna be a
long day at work.
How does it feel to you
to think about working?
It sucks.
It sucks.
You know, I don't feel
like doing anything.
Well, how do you
go through it then?
You just do it.
You just do it, you put on your
professional hat and you just do it.
I've been doing that for
many years in my life, so
Right. I mean this is one of the
biggest situations in your life.
Yeah, but some days you
just wanna stop the train.
You know what, and it... You
know, really, if there was a day
it would be right now for you.
With what's going on with Su, absolutely,
this would be a day to stop the train.
That would make so much sense.
On the other hand, this is
the train you're on right now.
(intense, dissonant
music playing)
When drum circles
play in Africa,
everybody be soloing and
improvising on the rhythm.
If you apply that to jazz,
this is what you get.
It ain't just one person soloing
and everybody else has
a different conception.
We all solo.
So, let's ju... We just
gotta find it. Yeah.
(intense music playing)
Bop, bop. Bop, bop.
Uh, uh. Uh, uh.
Uh, uh. Uh, uh.
(chuckles) Hey! Ho!
(crescendo building)
(music ends)
Yeah. You see how it
comes in the middle of it?
That's a good vibe too.
Ahh! And then you switch
your note, "di-dit-dit."
(music slowly building)
After a while. After a while.
Bask in it, then let it live.
Everybody wanna live free.
(Batiste) I haven't been able
to turn my mind off, man.
Three days, I probably
haven't slept.
Oh, my gosh.
A lot of anxiety.
I've gotta get to sleep somehow.
In recent years, I've struggled
with anxiety and panic attacks.
I remember one day, I thought
my heart was gonna stop.
I didn't realize what it was.
Maybe it's the nerves.
Maybe it's the hospital couch.
Maybe it's all of the pressure.
Oh, oh, my gosh.
Maybe it's the stakes of
this piece getting done.
Stakes of representing
your race and your culture.
Stakes of living up to the
ideas and creative potential
that have been put in you.
Mm. Whoof.
You gotta put some
pressure on it sometime.
(woman) It's lonely... This place
is so lonely without the paintings.
(Jaouad) Mom, have these
five weeks felt long to you?
Or have they flown by?
(mom) They are timeless.
I have no idea how much time.
- (Jaouad) Has passed.
- Could be five years.
- Could be five hours.
- That's true.
(Jaouad) Overwhelming for you?
- Jon? Yeah.
- (Batiste) I don't know how it felt yet.
I'll let you know in five years.
(laughs) Exactly.
(Jaouad) You're meant to return from
the hardest moments of your life
stronger and braver,
and more of a warrior for
what you've been through.
I don't want to have tough skin.
I want to feel the things
that are happening to me.
The terrible things.
The beautiful things.
I wanna be open to it all.
(all clapping and cheering)
You're so kind, thank you.
Thank you.
(all) Whoo!
Thank you. That is so sweet.
(poignant music playing)
That's so nice.
(man over computer) Incredible
again, all those Grammy nominations.
Also across such a broad
number of categories.
Value is not defined by awards, but
I'd sure like to win some. (laughs)
The way you come across is
kind of a very wholesome
very optimistic, very positive.
Is it important to you to
exude that kind of positivity?
Something that you are
representing for a reason.
I think it's natural and
I think people want that.
So I always... You know,
whatever I'm putting out there,
even in this interview
talking to you,
me and you... I'm
grateful to be here.
I'm grateful to be able to
have these words memorialized
and whatever that's gonna do in the world,
I believe that has a serious impact,
and I want that
impact to lead to joy.
Say it's all right
I want the impact to lead to
someone being uplifted or healed.
That's a real thing.
That's very real.
But they also have Black people
cooning and mugging for the camera,
and smiling and dancing for centuries and
that was all people could see them as.
So we really have a psychosis
in terms of how we perceive Black
entertainers and Black intellectuals.
We have something to actually
overcome, in order to understand
the full range of what
they offer to the world.
And sometimes we don't see
that until after the fact.
So it's important that
I also state that too.
Feeling sad like
so many of us do
Just hum a little soul
Make life your goal
And surely something's
Got to come to you
(female reporter) Music in all
of its forms will be celebrated
at the 64th annual Grammy
Awards in Las Vegas tonight.
(female reporter 2) The most
nominated artist, Jon Batiste
(Jaouad)Look at that suit!
(Batiste on the phone) I
don't know what's happening.
I'm just like
being moved around.
(Jaouad) All right, well you guys
stay in your zone and stay focused.
Meditate, pray, focus.
I can't wait.
The performance, the
job is not finished.
The job is not finished.
(announcer, indistinct over PA)
(indistinct chatter)
- (mother) Your afternoon ones?
- (Jaouad) No, my evening ones,
I took my afternoon
ones a few hours ago.
I'm trying to figure out how to
lessen the pill burden at night.
So I don't take them
all close together.
(mother) Yeah, but it's supposed
to be this continuous thing
in your body, though.
(Noah) Our next performer
is up for more Grammys
than any other artist this year.
He's already won four
awards, just today
and he's still up for Record
and Album of The Year.
Here to show us why, is the
one and only Jon Batiste.
Oh, my God. This is beautiful.
(chorus singing)
When I move my
body just like this
I don't know why But
I feel like freedom
I hear a song
that takes me back
And I let go with
so much freedom
- Free to live
- How I wanna live
- And I'm gon' get
- Where I'm gonna get
'Cause it's my freedom
Those dresses are amazing.
The reason we get
down Is to get back up
If someone's around
Go on let them look
You can't stand still
This ain't no drill
More than cheap thrills
Feels like money, money,
Money, money, money, money
That's so good.
(Batiste) Everybody
get up off your seat.
Let me see you wobble
Let me see you shake
I want you to touch the screen
right now and get your blessing.
And submit to your...
Music makes you free
Oh, yeah, oh, yeah
Let me see you wobble
I need you to know
if nobody ever gave
permission to be who you are
I'm giving it to you right now.
Be yourself.
Music makes you free, yeah
Oh, yeah
When I move my
body just like this
I don't know why
but I feel like
- (applause and cheering)
- (microphone thudding)
(Jaouad) Hands down. He got
everybody up on their feet.
(woman) That was New Orleans
at its finest, right?
He won the Grammy.
(indistinguishable conversation)
(applause continues)
- (Kravitz) Good evening and let love rule.
- Here it comes.
It's really tough competition.
(Kravitz) For well
over half a century
albums have given artists the space
to share their inspired expressions.
This music can become an
intimate part of our lives,
narrating and
transforming the culture.
Here are ten artists who have given
us the best of their creativity.
(Jaouad) He's already
won. That's the thing.
Four Grammys is a lot.
(Kravitz) And the
Grammy goes to
We Are! Jon Batiste!
(applause and cheering)
- Whee-hoo.
- (woman) Oh, my God.
That is unbelievable.
Are you going to marry him now?
(Jaouad) I already did.
(Batiste) Wow.
Thank you.
(woman) Holy shit.
You know, I-I really... I
believe this to my core.
There is no best musician,
best artist, best
dancer, best actor.
The creative arts are
and they reach people at a point in
their lives when they need it most.
It's like a song
or an album is made
and it almost has a radar to find the
person when they need it the most.
I mean, man
I'd like to thank God.
I just put my head down
and I work on the craft
every day, I love music,
I've been playing since
I was a little boy.
It's more than entertainment for
me, it's a spiritual practice.
And, um, this is for real
artists, real musicians,
Let's just keep going.
Be you. That's it.
I love you, even if I don't
know you. Good night! Hey!
(Noah) Jon Batiste!
A winner once again.
- All right!
- (indistinct happy shouting)
(indistinct chatter)
(all yelling)
Yeah! Whoo!
(photographer) Beautiful.
Can you make that gold?
- (man) You got it.
- (woman) You got it, Jon.
(indistinct chatter)
(photographer) Put that
here, and then we're gonna
(chatter continues outside)
(man) Jon do you want to
sign some autographs?
(woman) Jon, can you
sign, please, honey?
(woman) The Grammys were
in Vegas over the weekend.
(man) Cool to my guy, Jon Batiste, man,
that's a great brother right there,
real musician, won
Album of The Year.
(man) What are we to make of
this, dare I say, perverse thing
that happened on the Grammys?
He beat out Billie Eilish
for Album of The Year
- (man 2) Yeah.
- (man) beat out Lil Nas X,
These were albums that
people listened to.
(woman) Jean Batiste gave us a performance
we would have seen on The Ellen Show.
This man seems like he's stuck in,
like, the Pharrell "Happy" video.
And I have no disrespect,
I think he's a wonderful
(man 3) You know it's the first time
a Black artist won Album of The Year
- for 14 years, you all know that, right?
- (woman) What? Really?
It's a lot of patent leather
and, like, it could use a little
I only have leather
that absorbs.
(Batiste) Oh, I'm sorry.
No, I'm sorry, too, I mean
- That's okay, I'll come to you
- I wouldn't be doing you any...
next time around.
I wouldn't be doing you any
justice and I use the best,
- just cream polishes, no waxes.
- (Batiste) Oh
- Well, next time, don't worry about it.
- Yeah, okay.
Thank you so much.
I'm just hanging out
on your shoe shine...
Are you a celebrity?
- What's uh...
- You got a camera man.
Yeah, he's a great,
great friend of mine.
- Just filming us, hanging out.
- Okay.
- What do you do?
- I'm a musician.
- Are you?
- Yeah.
Right on. Yeah, we did a
- We did a performance last night.
- (man) Your performance last night
- was epic.
- At the Grammy Awards.
- Oh, thank you.
- We were there last night.
- Oh, amazing.
- It was epic.
- Oh, thank you.
- (woman) We were blown away, really were.
- Thank you for...
- Yeah, the showmanship is bar none.
Is this... Is this you?
- Oh, yeah.
- You're on the front page.
- There you go.
- (laughing)
Anyway, we don't want to
bother you, but great.
- Pleasure, have a good one.
- Have a good rest of your day.
Nice to meet you.
It won't cost you nothing, but I
can use this on patent leather.
Oh, yeah. It's okay,
don't worry about it.
I can do it.
- Are you sure?
- Yeah.
- Great job last night.
- (Batiste) Thank you.
(trading kisses)
- Yeah.
- All right.
All right, all right.
- Whoo!
- Bless you, brother.
Bada, Bada!
The winners, the winners.
- Congratulations.
- Yes, indeed, thank you.
(indistinct chatter)
(Batiste) Everybody's
on their own journey.
We're all moving towards
our ultimate destination.
You know, the world defines you.
Great success, great failure.
You know, her health is failing,
her book is on the New
York Times bestseller list.
That's her journey.
I win five Grammys,
Album of The Year.
Biggest prize in
music. Come home.
She's back in the hospital.
This is what we're dealing with.
(monitor beeping)
(grunts softly)
All up in my ribcage.
Will you help me
get set back up?
- Mm.
- Will you help me?
- I want the tables and the paints.
- Mm-hm.
Thank you.
- (in French) See you tonight?
- Mm?
(in French) I'll
see you tonight?
What time?
(chuckles) I'll see you tonight.
(trumpet playing)
(trumpet and piano playing)
(Batiste) Oh!
Oh, that A-flat...
(vocalizes refrain)
Play... Ooh, ooh. Play the melody,
down an octave, let me hear that.
(trumpet resumes)
(guitars and trumpet playing)
(chuckles) How do
you feel about it?
- (musician) I like it.
- Great.
So let's try it one more
time, then we'll record it.
(orchestra playing together)
Yeah, play that with authority.
Yeah. Wild West,
abandon. You a cowboy.
You ain't afraid. Yeah.
- (man) Jon, over here.
- (Batiste) Boom. I got it right here.
- Hey.
- (man) Hey, Jon, over here, please?
(indistinct overlapping voices)
Mr. Batiste, may
we do a jump shot?
Yeah, brother. (vocalizing)
(Batiste) Man, I didn't
even want to be famous.
Never making music
with that intention.
That's the vibe.
Even though I'm grateful for it,
if I was to go up
more levels in fame,
it's just more stuff to take
you away from your family.
And your people.
It's a tough crowd
to move along -I know.
- I'm relying on you.
- (laughs) I'm gonna shake it up.
(Batiste) You gotta protect
that ambition from taking over.
It'll be, like, this size,
maybe a little bigger.
And I want to do a
checkerboard effect.
Gotta protect it from
becoming the primary way
that you relate to yourself
and to your loved ones.
(chuckles) It's like you're
living a double life or something.
(lush orchestral music playing)
- (doctor) Hello! Hello, hi.
- (Jaouad) Hi, Dr. Charles.
- How are you?
- (female doctor) We're back.
I'm here, I'm happy,
I'm happy to be here.
- Oh, good.
- How are you?
I'm doing okay.
So, the first issue is
how's the graft working?
Well, what's the bone
marrow looking like?
The marrow looks wonderful
and we didn't see a leukemia cell,
so that means a complete remission.
- (Jaouad) Great.
- Which is good.
- Let's go over the issues, young lady.
- Uh-oh.
- Positive thoughts, positive thoughts.
- Okay. Brave.
Would this remission
last five years
and then come back again?
The answer is we don't know.
What are we doing differently? This
time we're not stopping the A's.
You're taking it as
long as it works.
- (Jaouad) So chemo forever?
- Yeah.
(Dr. Charles) Ninety percent
about this is managing risk.
- Yeah.
- Is it worth for you
- to take a risk, right?
- Got it.
So, I mean, there
will be points that
you'll have to make
the decision about,
"I am going to expose myself
to 1,000 people here."
You're doing this to live,
not to survive, okay?
You live every day as if it
were the last day of your life.
You are so unique, the numbers
are meaningless to you.
(Batiste) What's
the biopsy schedule?
(Dr. Charles) Six month,
nine month, 12 month,
and then probably
every six months.
And at year five,
we can negotiate.
You look worried.
No, no, no, I think
I'm... I'm okay.
I think the idea of doing
Chemo indefinitely feels...
- The word indefinitely feels daunting.
- (female doctor) I know.
(Dr. Charles) Hey, we
don't have to, remember.
- No, no, no...
- It's not the tenth commandment, right.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
- We do what feels right.
- Right.
But I think it's it's
important to budget.
This is what I'm gonna
do, but remember,
only fools and dead people
don't change their minds,
so you can change your mind
and I can change my mind.
Yeah and I'm okay, I just
(mother) And you have had
people doing this indefinitely
who have good quality
of life and get used
(somber piano playing)
(woman on phone) How are you
doing as far as your faith
in everything right now?
(Batiste) I have faith
that everything can change.
I have faith that
everything is changing.
God giveth and
God can take away.
In a second.
It can all go.
Obviously, there are things that
I would like to be different.
But I think I'm more just
coming into the realization
of what genuine acceptance is
and genuine gratitude.
And there's an urgency
to that realization.
Okay. How have you
been processing this?
There's a choice that
has crept upon me,
to be made in this moment,
that has nothing to do with the things
that people can see on the outside.
That's not easy.
It takes an absence of fear
(Colbert) I've got news about
our dear friend, Jon Batiste.
Jon has decided
to leave the show.
- (audience) Aww
- I know.
I feel the same way.
And he's gonna take a little
personal time, as well he should,
for all the best reasons
(woman) Jon Batiste has
"American Symphony" at Carnegie
(man) Jon Batiste, who is a
Perspectives Artist here at
(woman) will be a, quote,
"Culmination of more than a century
of Black brilliance"
in this piece.
The Oscar-winning composer salutes
musical visionaries such as
Duke Ellington, James Reese Europe,
Mahalia Jackson and Nina Simone,
who once performed at Carnegie.
(heavy rhythmic breathing)
(Batiste) Yeah.
(host) Good evening.
Good evening, good
evening, good evening.
(recording of a piano plays)
(host, muffled) Welcome
to Carnegie Hall!
Isn't this place amazing?
(host continues
speaking, muffled)
- (knocking on door)
- (host) Are we about ready?
(applause and cheering)
This is my first time
out in almost a year.
(host) Are you guys ready
for the man of the moment?
- (applause)
- (orchestral fanfare playing)
The maestro.
King of New Orleans.
Ladies and gentlemen,
put your hands together
for Jon Batiste and
the American Symphony!
Hey! Hey, hey, hey!
(Batiste laughs) Woo! Yeah!
All right, now.
Thank you!
Ready to hit 'em?
(Batiste chuckles)
(music starts)
Have some fun with it.
(narrator) Dawn, day, to dusk
The night becomes forever
But we shall overcome
Dawn, day, to dusk
(piano motif starts)
Dawn, day, to dusk
The night it comes for us
But we shall overcome
(applause and cheering)
(indistinct overlapping voices)
(piano playing)
(siren wailing)
(man) Power went out.
(piano plays faintly)
(man 2) Power's out.
(man 3) Power's out on stage.
The power's out.
(piano continues)
(man) Power's still out.
(piano resumes)
(piano building in intensity)
(begins playing
discordant notes)
(woman) Check your
earpiece. The power's back.
Where there
Is sorrow
We will find the joy
Ever my sorrow
Has cried
Yet on the wings of my Lord
I rise
To that mountain top
Where the light resides
The sun it shines
So bright
And a song
Is always
On my
(applause and cheering)
(Batiste) Hey, hey!
(piano playing)
See nothing can stop
the power of God.
(Batiste) Ah... Oof!
There were so many forces
up against this happening.
So many things that came
up against this happening.
Even midway through this performance,
stuff you don't even know was happening.
And the fact that we are here
right now, playing this music,
the whole diaspora of music
- (applause and cheering)
- Whoo! Hoo!
Thank you for bearing witness to
this moment with us, thank you.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
(applause fades, music starts)
Oh, oh, oh-oh
In the water
(vocalizing continues)
(chorus vocalizing together)
(music crescendos)
(song ends)
(applause erupts)
(applause fades)
(slow piano playing)
("It Never Went Away"
by Jon Batiste playing)
It never went away
The feeling's just the same
Every time I see your face
It's never going away
Thought I was a wise lad
When you plan, God laughs
Thought I was hot Got
a detour along the way
Summertime adventure
That's what we
were meant for
I need you
And that's never
going to change
It never went away
Every time I see your face
The feeling's just the same
It's never going away
Looking for adventure
That's what we
were meant for
I need you
And that's never
going to change
It never went away
Every time I see your face
The feeling's just the same
It's never going away
No, no
(song ends)