Composer and arranger Sammy Nestico is best known for his tenures with the U.S. Air Force Airmen of Note, the U.S. Marine Corps’ White House orchestra, and the Count Basie big band. Summit Records’ session of Nestico’s arrangements is presented by several all-star bands, whose members reside and work in the Los Angeles area. Supporting successful big bands such as The Clayton-Hamilton orchestra, Bob Florence’s Limited Edition, Gerald Wilson’s big band, Bill Holman’s orchestra, and the Frank Capp Juggernaut, the L.A. big band fan base continues to grow and revel in its fortunate surroundings. There is no recording date on the album’s notes. However, the sessions appear to have been recorded in three different sessions over the past dozen years or so.
Nestico uses particular arranging techniques to achieve success. Big fat brass punctuation marks, instant changes in dynamic volume levels, walls of unison brass instruments, and the pairing of flute with baritone saxophone are just a few. There are occasional open fifths to please the ear, and ample use of trombone timbres to provide sounds that are at once familiar and innovative. More information on Sammy Nestico may be found at http://www.summitrecords.com .
Nestico’s "88 Basie Street" includes a laid-back piano interlude by Pete Jolly that pours out handfuls of keys with the ever-present tendency to swing. Ron Stout’s clear middle register trumpet feature on "It’s A Wonderful World" and Andy Martin’s fluid trombone solo on "Who’s Sorry Now?" stand out as two of the album’s highlights. Bud Shank’s alto saxophone feature on "Samantha" sits atop the dramatic piece with a majesty all its own. "Small Talk" includes interesting solo work by flutist Sal Lozano, trombonist Martin and pianist Jolly. Chuck Berghofer and Gregg Field set the proper mood for the soloists with a walking bass pattern that sidesteps as well as strolls, and percussion brushes that swish and swirl appropriately. Louie Bellson casts off the accompaniment shackles of "Pressure Cooker" long enough to trade fours with the band in grand fashion. With Victor Feldman at the synthesizer, background vocalists coloring, and Bill Watrous playing trombone "This Is Love" and "Shoreline Drive" turn out to be nostalgic walks through the 1960s and 1970s. Tim May’s electric guitar solo on "Shoreline Drive" and Pete Christlieb’s forceful tenor saxophone tirade smokes over a strutting electric bass pulse and drum back beat. The session’s recorded sound is balanced and clear, containing some of the best present-day big band jazz available on record. This one is highly recommended.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.