Watch How Jim Henson Animated Jazz With Tiny, Dancing Strips of Paper

Jim Henson had a soft spot for jazz

Drums West

Before he achieved fame with the Muppets, Jim Henson, a skilled animator as well as a puppeteer, was making all sorts of innovative work out of his home studio, in Bethesda, Md. Around 1961, he made the papercut animation above, which visualized jazz drummer Chico Hamilton's "Drums West."

Released last year by the Jim Henson Company, the video was only recently rediscovered. At the end you can catch a glimpse of Henson at work.

Henson had a big thing for jazz. In his first TV puppet show, Sam and Friends, which ran on a local NBC affiliate, one short sketch featured an early version of Kermit the Frog exploring the concept of “visual thinking” through jazz, says Open Culture.

Visual Thinking

Even after the Muppets hit it big, Henson carried this appreciation of jazz with him, says the CBC.

While the show emphasized a general appreciation of all music, Jim Henson and Co. seemed to have a soft spot for jazz, introducing a whole new generation to the music of Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Rita Moreno, Carol Channing, Harry Belafonte and a host of other artists performing standards or jazzed-up interpretations of other classics.

Henson took this love for jazz with him to the grave—at his written request, the public memorials for his death included a jazz band.

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