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The Rich Musical World of Louis Cato

The Rich Musical World of Louis Cato

The Late Show bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Louis Cato joins Cory to break down his otherworldly approach to playing, and how the many facets of his musical background come together in his sound.

Multi-instrumentalist Louis Cato has had a lot on his plate since taking over as bandleader for Jon Batiste on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in late 2022, but has been enjoying every minute of it. "I feel like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, with exactly the people I'm supposed to be there with," he tells Cory on this episode of Wong Notes. Of course, given his role there is a fulltime gig, the release of his second solo album, Reflections, last August was kind of a big deal. Its music was largely inspired by things Cato was forced to confront when the pandemic hit, including "self-analysis, putting on the mask, the egotistical parts of attraction and love songs, and things of that nature," he shares.

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Early on in the conversation, Louis answers Cory's question about how his approach to chord voicings is so different from the norm. A lot of it comes from his childhood influence of Ron Kenoly's praise and worship music, featuring Abe Laboriel Sr. on bass. His first guitar was from a yard sale and had just four strings, and his experience learning Laboriel's bass lines on it still informs how he approaches voice leading on the guitar today. There was also his mother, the pianist, from whom he absorbed into his guitar methods the piano style of playing octaves in the left hand and triads in the right.

After Louis shares about what makes his creativity tick as a multi-instrumentalist, he and Cory get into the meat of the biggest mistakes a guitar player can make. A lot of it, for Cato, has to do a lack of dynamics and inflection, or playing 10 notes where you should just play two, he says. Towards the end of the ep, Louis hops on a drumset in the room to illustrate how drummers can also create a "jerky" beat if they don't stick with just straight or just swingin'. Listen to the full ep to get a deep dive into the mind of the Late Show bandleader.