THE ICON: Alvin Batiste
THE LEGACY: Being a modern man in a city as traditional as New Orleans can be a challenge, but clarinetist Alvin Batiste made it look easy, and sound so smooth, as a local keeper of the flame for modern jazz. When he wasn’t playing, or practicing, he was teaching the likes of Branford Marsalis and Donald Harrison Jr. at Southern University in Baton Rouge, where he co-founded the jazz studies program — among the first of its kind in the nation — and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, for which he also played a key early role. Batiste died in 2007, but his genius is alive and well, thrumming vibrantly through the instruments of the legion of former students whose music, and whose lives, he helped shape.
THE ARTIST: Jeff Morgan
THE INSPIRATION: “He was a perpetual student and a perpetual educator. He would practice every morning when he woke up. He was still searching, still looking for something new in the music. And when he found it, he passed it on.” — drummer and Batiste student Herlin Riley, in 2007