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The Sesame Street Songbook Gets Jazz Makeover on Open Sesame

Trombonist Joe Fiedler reimagines iconic tunes as the show celebrates its 50th anniversary

Joe Fiedler (photo: Peter Gannushkin)

Joe Fiedler wasn’t sure if he’d make it on Sesame Street. Not that he’s a resident on the kids’ show, practicing his trombone in an apartment and keeping Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird up all night with his multiphonics. Since 2009, Fiedler has served as music director of orchestration and arrangements for Sesame Street, working closely with the show’s main music director, Bill Sherman.

With deep knowledge of musical styles ranging from pop to avant-garde jazz, Fiedler seemed like an ideal candidate who could help the show’s music head in a new direction when he took the job about 10 years ago. But it took some time to adjust. “In the beginning, it was very much grasping at straws,” Fiedler says. “We thought we would have a good idea for an episode and then the producers would hate it.”

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Mike Shanley

Mike Shanley has been a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh and gladly welcomes any visitors to the city, most likely with a cup of coffee in one hand. Over the years, he has written for several alternative weekly papers and played bass guitar in several indie rock bands. He currently writes for the bi-weekly paper Pittsburgh Current and maintains a blog at shanleyonmusic.blogspot.com.