Jan 13, 2021
Blue Engine Records, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s in-house record label continues to bring us musical recordings the show the many facets of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s sound and repertoire. In late 2020 they released A Swingin’ Sesame Street Celebration, which accompanied a PBS broadcast premiere of a concert film by the same name, bringing us the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s fresh arrangements of classic Sesame Street songs.
Often recorded by jazz artists - most recently Delfeayo Marsalis and the Sesame Street musical director Joe Fiedler - the recording reveals the timeless appeal of music by the likes of Joe Raposo, Christopher Cerf and Tony Geiss. Recorded in front of a sold-out audience at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater, the concert assembles a star-studded lineup of Sesame Street characters —including Elmo, Abby, Big Bird, Bert & Ernie, and many more—to perform beloved tunes like “Rubber Duckie,” “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon,” and "Elmo's Song."
For our purposes, the star-studded lineup was composed of the musicians who saluted the show. Jazz great Wynton Marsalis, the musical director of JALC, has been a frequent guest on Sesame Street, and he is featured on a number of tunes on the recording, as are JALC stalwarts like Marcus Printup, Victor Goines, Chris Crenshaw, Ted Nash and Sherman Irby. But JALC trumpeter Kenny Rampton has the distinction of not only being a JALC regular, but also a member of the Sesame Street band, recording new music for the show every week,
Rampton joined JALC in 2010, and when not performing there, he is often heard with the Mingus Big Band. The Mingus Orchestra, the Mingus Dynasty, George Gruntz’ Concert Jazz Band, and the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra. A veteran of the Ray Charles Orchestra, Bebo Valdez’ Latin Jazz All-Stars and bands featuring Charles Earland and Jimmy McGriff, he also leads his own sextet, releasing his first solo album Moon Over Babylon.
Podcast 788 features my conversation with Kenny, as we talk about how JALC (and he) has faired during these difficult times, and he shares what he considers to be the most important things a musician can do to make a solid career in the business. Musical selections from the album include two tunes that Kenny arranged, “Sesame Street Theme (Sunny Day),” and “Elmo’s Tune,” as well as one he has a solo on, “One of These Things,” where he gets to share center stage with Oscar the Grouch.