Alvin Batiste

Alvin Batiste

 New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

He is simply "Batiste" - one of the most distinctive and virtuosic of modern jazz clarinet players, and his name alone has become synonymous with taking the music to the next level and the next generation, a ‘Music Pioneer’ who has contributed to every genre.


A music master, composer, arranger, educator and performer - Alvin Batiste defied description. Batiste, a native of New Orleans, was born on November 7, 1932 and transitioned on May 6, 2007.

He was simply "Batiste" - one of the most distinctive and virtuosic of modern jazz clarinet players, and his name alone has become synonymous with taking the music to the next level and the next generation, a Music Pioneer who contributed to every genre.

His Columbia album billed him as a "Legendary Pioneer of Jazz." Alvin Batiste is an avant-garde player who does not fit easily into any classification. Under-recorded throughout his career, Batiste was a childhood friend of Ed Blackwell and spent time in Los Angeles in 1956 playing with Ornette Coleman.

Batiste was born in New Orleans in 1932, and is among the rare artists who have created a modern approach to improvising on the clarinet. My dad played the clarinet, Alvin explains, and was a boyhood friend of the great Edmond Hall as well as a fan of Benny Goodman. I wasnt that interested in learning the instrument when he bought one for me, until I heard Charlie Parkers recording of Nows the Time at a friends house. You could only find records like that in one or two stores in New Orleans at the time, and my reaction was, What was that? I started practicing seriously at that point.

Batiste and renowned saxophonist Edward Kidd Jordan would develop a friendship that spans fifty-five years. They met as young musicians at Southern University in Baton Rouge in 1952, played together in the Universitys concert & marching bands as well as the Collegian and The Dukes of Rhythm, both unauthorized jazz bands which were not allowed on the campus, pledge in the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, and later would marry two sisters; Alvin to Edith Chatters and Kidd to Edvidge Chatters.

Alvin and Edith were fellow band students at Booker T. Washington High School, both playing the clarinet in the schools band. They would soon secretly marry while on a supposed it trip to the movies.

Alvin later introduced Jordan to Edvidge following a Stan Kenton Big Band show at the Municipal Auditorium in New Orleans in which Alvin and Kidd had waited for more than an hour hoping for a chance to meet band members Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Parker abided and immediately dubbed the two young musicians his friends.

Batiste would later share tenure with Jordan at the Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp, established in 1995 to honor the legacy of a beloved international ambassador and one of New Orleans greatest native sons. The Jazz Camp was designed to perpetuate the rich jazz tradition by teaching young people the art form in the city where it was created.

Other members of The Dukes of Rhythm included Don Dillon, Edward Sanders, Curtis Godchaux, Berk Robison, Ed Lil Daddy Duplessis, Ludwig Freeman, Dewey Lewis, Ed Sawyer, Bernard Beaco and other classmates.

Bat was also influenced during his early years by his teachers T. LeRoy Davis, Huel Perkins, John Banks, Henry Thompson (Omar Sharif) and Berk Robinson, the latter an advance student who had mastered all of Charlie Parkers tunes.

Batiste first received international attention after he appeared on two Julian Cannonball Adderly recordings. Batiste had just completed the musical score to Vu-Dou Macbeth an Operatic choreo-drama by librettist Lenwood OSloan. Batiste performed throughout American Inner city school districts using the principles in his book entitled: The Root Progression System: The Fundamentals of African American Music.

Throughout his musical career, Batiste performed with the Ray Charles Orchestra, Larry Darnell, Joe Jones, Smiley Lewis, Joe Robichaux, Guitar Slim, Marlon Jordan and George Williams. He also played with the American Jazz Quintet. Batiste recorded with the AFO Records ("All For One"), a New Orleans based record company formed in 1961 by Harold Battiste which is credited with creating a rhythmic new jazz feel. This New Orleans modern jazz developed by Alvin Batiste, Harold Battiste, pianist Ellis Marsalis, drummer Ed Blackwell and other local musicians was highly influenced by its New York counterpart; bebop yet maintained strong southern characteristics.

Batiste made three albums with Clarinet Summit in the 1980s (a quartet also including John Carter, David Murray, and Jimmy Hamilton). Batiste recorded an album, Bayou Magic, in 1988 as a leader for India Navigation and made the 1993 Columbia album Late. Songs, Words and Messages, Connections appeared in 1999.
Batiste also performed on the Marlon Jordan featuring Stephanie Jordan 2005 CD release which was a production of the Jordan-Chatters-Batiste family.

His most current CD made available on April 10. 2007; Marsalis Music Honors Alvin Batiste is with Branford Marsalis and other notable ...


Alvin Batiste, Musique D'Afrique Nouvelle Orleans (India Navigation, 1984)

John Carter/Alvin Batiste/Jimmy Hamilton/David Murray, Clarinet Summit: In Concert at the Public Theater, Vol. I & II (India Navigation, 1985)

American Jazz Quintet, From Bad to Badder (Black Saint, 1987)

Alvin Batiste, Bayou Magic (India Navigation, 1988)

Alvin Batiste, Late (Columbia, 1994)

Alvin Batiste, Songs, Words and Messages, Connections, (Columbia, 1999)

Marlon Jordan featuring Stephanie Jordan, (Funkshenal Art Media, 2005)

Alvin Batiste, Marsalis Music Honors (Marsalis Music-Rounder, 2006)

Alvin Batiste, Soulmates: Alvin & Edith Batiste (TBA)