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 Chome 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. On it he reimages the timeless music of Joe Raposo, Jeffrey Moss and others on his own terms, with help from tasteful hell-raisers Jeff Lederer, Michael Sarin, Sean Conly and guest Steven Bernstein (of Sex Mob fame).