Alvin Batiste was not famous. But once you start to explore the world of New Orleans music, his name starts to come up, again and again. He taught Henry Butler, and Branford Marsalis. He was a lifelong friend and collaborator with Harold Battiste (no relation). He founded the Jazz Institute at Southern University in Baton Rouge. Alvin Batiste was a musician’s musician.
And his approach to music wasn’t just a curriculum, it was a philosophy — the idea that there is no separation between types of music, and that they all are based in the same experiences.
In this episode of New Orleans Calling, host George Ingmire explores Alvin’s life and philosophy in his own words, from archived interviews. And he also speaks with one of his star pupils in his final years, clarinetist Gregory Agid, who describes meeting and studying with Alvin, and eventually becoming a protege to whom Alvin passed down one of his most difficult compositions, not through sheet music but through note-by-note practice over many months.
Alvin Batiste – “Theme From D’ Afrique” (music bed)
Charlie Parker – “Now’s The Time, Pt. 4” ((music bed)
Lemon Nash – “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (music bed)
American Jazz Quintet – “Fourth Month” (music bed)
American Jazz Quintet – “Morocco”
Southern University Jazz Ensemble – “Tunjii” (music bed)
Southern University Jazz Ensemble – “God Gave us a Song”
Alvin Batiste – “Bumps” (music bed)
Alvin Batiste – “My Life Is a Tree”
Gregory Agid – “Bumps” (music bed)
Alvin Batiste – “Banjo Noir” (music bed)
Alvin Batiste – “The Endocrine Song” (music bed)
Alvin Batiste – “Imp and Perry” (music bed)
Charlie Parker – “Cherokee” (music bed)
Gregory Agid – “Spyboy”
Alvin Batiste – “Late” (music bed)
Cannonball Adderly – “Salty Dogs” (music bed)
Alvin Batiste – “Salty Dogs” (music bed)
Alvin Batiste – “Words of Wisdom” (music bed)
Alvin Batiste – “Son Song” (music bed)
American Jazz Quintet – “Nigeria” (music bed)
Henry Butler – “Music Came”
American Jazz Quintet – “Chatterbox” (music bed)
NEW ORLEANS CALLING is a production of WWOZ, listener-supported community radio in the Crescent City.
George Ingmire is the host, writer, editor, interviewer, audio engineer, intrepid field recorder, and co-producer.
Dave Ankers is the producer.
Melanie Merz is the supervising producer.
National distribution managed by Russell Shelton and Carmen Connor Post.
Web support by David Stafford.
Executive Producer is WWOZ’s General Manager David Freedman.
Special thanks to:
Maynard Batiste, and the family of Alvin Batiste
Clarinetist Gregory Agid
Former WWOZ show host Judy Wood
The 1992 interview with Alvin Batiste is shared courtesy the Archive of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, special thanks to archivists Rachel Lyons and Dolores Hooper
And thanks to:
Sally Young and Melanie Merz for their voice talents.
New Orleans Calling volunteers Catey Boyle, Doug Marshall, and Helen Kyriakoudis.
Photos of Alvin Batiste at Jazz Fest 2005, by Skip Bolan.