In addition to the comedy, puppetry, and guest stars, The Muppet Show was a showcase for a variety of musical styles, from classical piano music to psychedelic rock. Although musically inclined puppeteers such as Jim Henson and Steve Whitmire could effectively convey the impression of their character performing, the actual instruments were played, in pre-recorded tracks, by a steady ensemble of veteran musicians. Various members of the Jack Parnell in-house orchestra contributed to the soundtrack, blending with the Muppet performers' vocals and puppetry to create an effective illusion. In much the same way that the puppeteers were cast by role, individual artists "doubled" as the musical voices of the characters, in addition to performing as an ensemble for background score or other groups.
Kenny Baker - Gonzo's Trumpet
Kenny Baker (1921-1999) (not to be confused with the other Kenny Baker) supplied the sharp, sometimes discordant trumpet notes for Gonzo for each Muppet Show opening. He also performed Gonzo's occasional trumpet solos within the show, notably in "Great Day" in episode 414.
Baker was a jazz trumpeter, equally adept at the cornet and the bugle, who was lead trumpet for Ted Heath's big band in the 1940s. He went on to form his own group, the Baker's Dozen, and soon landed a BBC radio series. In 1954, Baker dubbed the trumpet playing for actress Kay Kendall in the film Genevieve, and performed in soundtracks for James Bond films and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. A colleague of Jack Parnell from the Ted Heath days, he became a permanent member of ATV's band beginning in the 1960s, and worked The Muppet Show for all five seasons.
Frank Reidy - Zoot's Saxophone
Frank Reidy, saxophone and clarinet player, supplied the sax wailings for Zoot. As Dave Goelz recalled, "The only sax player I knew was Frank Reidy, of the Jack Parnell Orchestra, the musicians for the Muppet Show, and he wasn't anything like Zoot." Reidy had prior experience with madcap comedy, having backed Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan on The Goon Show. He also performed with the likes of Frank Sinatra.
Frank played the 'Zoot' parts when it was on the Tenor sax, but John Whelan (pictured above next to Frank) played the Baritone sax parts, as in the opening and closing title music, including that famous last note. The solos were equaly shared between the two players. John also played the Alto solo for the Swedish Chef .Both players did all of the 120 shows.