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Joe Fiedler, Musical Director of Sesame Street, performs at Next Stage Arts on Friday, November 19 with his sextet Open Sesame.

Joe Fiedler, EMMY-nominated music director and staff arranger for the famed children’s show Sesame Street, will perform at Next Stage Arts on Friday, November 19 with his project Open Sesame. The sextet will perform music from the group’s two releases, which explore diverse arrangements of classic Sesame Street songs.

“The musical director of Sesame Street performing at Next Stage!” exclaims Keith Marks, Executive Director of Next Stage Arts. “We are continuing to reach out and bring the best and brightest talent to the area. This group is an example of virtuosity, bridging popular culture and high art. Joe Fiedler’s work as a professional musician spans genre and style, and we’re proud to host his group ‘Open Sesame’ in Putney.”

In 2019, trombonist Joe Fiedler released Open Sesame, packed with inventive jazz readings of material drawn from his longstanding “day job” at Sesame Street. The effort was equally beloved by lay listeners and the jazz world alike. DownBeat praised the music’s “diverse aesthetic,” in which Fiedler blends “elements of funk, rock, free-jazz and New Orleans polyphony into a potent mix that gives depth and texture to the lighthearted compositions.” When Fiedler and the band toured the music, including a stop at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola with guest luminaries Wynton Marsalis and none other than Elmo himself, the realization set in that the project would be no one-off. “I have these songbooks from the Sesame Street office,” Fiedler says, “and if you whip through the first 30 tunes, absolutely everyone knows them. But there are six or seven thousand songs they’ve done over the past 50 years, with plenty of gold in there to do a second album for sure.”

The sextet is comprised of Fiedler on trombone, Steven Bernstein (of Sex Mob fame) on trumpet, Jeff Lederer on tenor/soprano sax & clarinet, Sean Conly on bass, and Michael Sarin on drums, plus guest vocalist Miles Griffith.

The New York Times has pinpointed a “feeling for a rugged but jaunty experimentalism” in the music of trombone veteran Joe Fiedler, a figure as esteemed in New York jazz circles as he is in the Afro-Caribbean and pop scenes. He’s an adventurous improviser and bandleader whose small-band outings include The Crab, Sacred Chrome Orb, Joe Fiedler Plays the Music of Albert Mangelsdorff, I’m In and Like, Strange. His two releases by the unique low-brass unit Big Sackbut — a trombone/tuba corollary of sorts to the World Saxophone Quartet — have also cemented Fiedler’s reputation as a musical thinker with boundless imagination.

Owing to his long experience in pit bands, salsa groups and countless other professional settings, Fiedler had the opportunity to play trombone on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s show In the Heights (not long before Hamilton’s runaway success). Tony Award-winning orchestrator Bill Sherman was on the gig and took to Fiedler, bringing him on board the newly revived children’s show Electric Company. After three seasons, Sherman and Fiedler made the transition in 2009 to Sesame Street. From playing 350 gigs a year on the freelance circuit, Fiedler officially became a Sesame Street music director, working on what would become hundreds of song arrangements and thousands of underscoring cues (and still climbing). His latest small-group CD, Open Sesame, grapples with the legacy of the storied show of which he’s become an integral part.

A native of Pittsburgh, Fiedler is an accomplished jazz improviser and bandleader with sideman credits including Andrew Hill, Charles Tolliver, Satoko Fujii, Eddie Palmieri, Celia Cruz and a host of others. In addition to his trio and other small-group lineups, Fielder leads the low-brass quartet Big Sackbut (three trombones & tuba), which has released the albums Big Sackbut, Sackbut Stomp and Live in Graz. He was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Music Direction and Composition in a Children’s Series in 2013 and 2016. He plays lead trombone on the 2021 movie soundtrack album for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, contributing horn orchestrations for five major numbers and underscoring cues as well. While playing the In the Heights stage production in 2008 he met chief arranger Bill Sherman, who went on to hire Fiedler for a reboot of The Electric Company and then Sesame Street as well.

Proof of vaccination or negative COVID test within 48 hours required for entry to indoor shows. Masks required while inside the venue.

This performance is made possible in part by the generous sponsorship of Oak Meadow.