Nov 16, 2009
I couldn’t let the 40th anniversary of “Sesame Street” go by without dropping in a list of famous jazz musicans who have swung through the block during the venerable show’s time on PBS:
Barretto: Appeared in the mid-‘70s to explain Latin
Tony Bennett: Taped an appearance in '95 singing a remake of "Little Things" with Lexine.
George Benson: Made several appearances in the early ‘80s, performing "A Friend for All Seasons" (with Olivia), "The Greatest Love of All" and "The Alphabet Song."
Cab Calloway: Appeared in several clips that debuted in '81 including "Hi-De-Ho Man" with the Two Headed Monster and “I Want to Count" with The Count.
Herbie Hancock: Made an appearance in the ‘80s in which Maria and the kids visit him in the studio. The segment closes with a rendition of the "Sesame Street Theme" as played by Hancock.
Diana Krall: Performed "Everybody's Song" with Elmo and a group of Muppets in '01.
Branford Marsalis: Appeared in the role of Forrest Wimbledon, a jazz musician who plays at Birdland with Hoots the Owl.
Wynton Marsalis: Appeared multiple times in the ‘80s. In one segment, Hoots gets into a musician's duel with Marsalis; in another, Marsalis performs at Birdland with Duck Ellington and the Sesame Street All-Animal Jazz Ensemble
Tito Puente: Guest starred in ’93 in multiple segments, including one in which his dance music eventually wins over Oscar the Grouch. Years later, he was parodied as Tito, the world's greatest timbale-playing bat.
Diane Schuur: Appeared in '96 singing “From Your Head" with Elmo.
One of the greatest jazz appearances – a Buddy Rich versus Animal drum duel – did not appear on “Sesame Street”, but on “The Muppet Show”, making it ineligible for inclusion.
For me, the best musical moment came when Hoots the Owl schooled Ernie on what it takes to play the saxophone. Click here and enjoy the video of “Put Down the Duckie”. How many celebrities can YOU name making cameos in the clip?