Sal Nistico: Heavyweights (1961)
Sal Nistico is a fine player from the post-bop school known mainly as a star soloist for Woody Herman (that is, if he’s recognized at all). Like many obscure players from the era, he was also given the opportunity to record some small-group sessions under his own name, two of which are collected here on this reissue. On the first Nistico is backed by a stellar lineup including Nat Adderley and Barry Harris, who help Nistico confront the legacy of Charlie Parker; in addition to Parker’s own “Au Privave” and “Cheryl”, there’s a handful of other tunes that could have just as easily been written by him as well. Nistico proves that he can hold his own with the more seasoned musicians, firing off choruses at a pace that would cause lesser players to falter. Comin’ On Up is a more relaxed affair, but no less worthy; Nistico and company venture into hard bop waters, with a Latin tune and a couple of ballads thrown in to keep things lively. Adderley is replaced by the obscure Sal Amico, a great talent who never got his due. Amico isn’t as forceful as Adderley, yet still displays an ability to knock off an accomplished solo. Heavyweights proves that Parker’s legacy was so pervasive that using his advances as a template, even lesser-known talents could crank out a couple of great albums.
Track Listing: Mamblue; Seconds, Anyone?; My Old Flame; Shoutin'; Au Privave; Heavyweights; Cheryl; Ariescene; By Myself; Samicotico; Comin' On Up; Easy Living; Down.
Personnel: On 1-6: Sal Nistico-tenor sax; Nat Adderley-cornet; Barry Harris-piano; Sam Jones-bass; Walter Perkins-drums. On 7-13: Sal Nistico-tenor sax; Sal Amico-trumpet; Barry Harris-piano; Bob Cranshaw-bass; Vinnie Ruggiero-drums.