Jazz on the Muppets

I was recently reminded about all the great jazz artists that appeared on the Muppet Show. They had their own Muppet Orchestra, of course, but I haven’t found a definitive list yet of who most of the sound track musicians were. Some of those muppet studio musicians had to play with some great jazz musicians. How would you like to be Ronnie Verrell, who plays Animal’s drum parts and have to drum battle with Buddy Rich?

Frank Reidy supposedly played a lot of the saxophone and clarinet parts for the Muppet Show. He got to follow Dizzy Gillespie’s trumpet solo on Swing Low Sweet Cadillac.


And while not really an example of burning jazz playing, the Sax and Violence sketch from the Muppet Shows reminds me of the Dizzy Gillespie’s bit with his  big band performance of Doodlin‘ at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1957.


Then there’s this version the Muppet Orchestra did of the jazz standard, Honeysuckle Rose. While the buzzing gets annoying to me, the interplay between bass and sax is fun and I like how the bassist covers the melody at times.

There are other children’s television shows I can think of that often featured jazz or other art music. What are some of the ones you can think of? Post your YouTube links below if you can find them.

John Whelan

I can tell you who all of the Muppet Orchestra were as I was a member myself.
Tpts. Kenny Baker.Tommy McQuater……Tbn. Don Lusher…..Reeds. Frank Reidy. John Whelan.
Pno. Norman Stenfalt. Bass. Russ Stableford. Guitar. Martin Kershaw. Perc. Alan Hakin. Cond. Jack Parnell.


How cool is that?! I wasn’t able to find a definitive list of all the musicians and one of them showed up to help me out. Thanks for stopping by, John.

You guys had the chance to back up a lot of great musical guests, and the band always sounded great, even with all the humor and bits.

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