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Sammy Nestico and the SWR Big Band: Fun Time and More Live

C. Michael Bailey By

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Big band jazz has evolved into its own avant-garde art form, where the arrangements have become progressively more complex and cerebral. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it does make for a different type of big band listening experience. Modern big band jazz, in some quarters, has veered off into a non-swinging, Stan Kenton direction and, while it remains interesting, it is not as enjoyable as a sweet Count Basie blues romp.

Speaking of Basie, the fabled bandleader retained many of the more celebrated arrangers and composers for his big band. Neal Hefti, Billy Byers, Frank Foster and Benny Carter are just a few of the musicians to arranged for Basie. Sammy Nestico enjoyed an extended relationship with the band from 1967 to 1984, where his arrangements showed up on Basie Big Band (Pablo, 1975), Fun Time (Pablo, 1975), Prime Time (Pablo, 1977) and Montreux '77 (Pablo, 1977). He also claims many recordings in his own right, several with the SRW Big Band: No Time Like the Present (Hanssler, 2005), Basie Cally Sammy (Hanssler, 2005) and Fun Time (Hanssler, 2009).

Nestico is back with the SWR (Südwestdeutschen Rundfunks) Big Band on this live Outing, Fun Time and More Live, recorded before an engaged audience at the Jazz Lights Oberkochen, Carl-Zeiss-Saal, March 19, 2010. Nestico guides this fine ensemble through 14 of his better-known arrangements, in a traditional big band recital that's more Basie than Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman. Nestico favors big brass and big sounds, conjuring forth such from this crack orchestra.

The book includes the title piece, with solos by alto saxophonist Klaus Graf, baritone saxophonist Pierre Paquette and pianist Klaus Weagenleiter. "Blue Samuel" swings with potent momentum, Fueled by the reed section, guitarist Klaus-Peter Schoepfer delivers both tasty comping and solo, chorded and real. Nestico displays his arranging power on Louis Armstrong's "Struttin' With Some Barbeque." This is meat-and-potatoes big band music.

Track Listing: Introduction; Fun Time; Not Really The Blues; Celebracion; A Song for Sarah; Blue Samuel; Samantha; Rare Moment; A New Day; A Pair of Aces; Struttin' With Some Barbecue; Orchids and Butterflies; Satin 'n glass; Dimensions in Blue.

Personnel: Sammy Nestico: conductor, arranger; Klaus Graf: alto and soprano saxophones, flute; Joerg Kaufmann: alto saxophone, flute; Steffen Webber: tenor saxophone, flute; Andreas Maile: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Pierre Paquette: baritone saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Felice Civitareale: trumpet, flugelhorn; Martijn de Laat: trumpet, flugelhorn; Ralf Hesse: trumpet, flugelhorn; Karl Farrent: trumpet, flugelhorn; Rudolf Reindl: trumpet, flugelhorn; Marc Godfroid: trombone; Ernst Hutter: trombone; Ian Cumming: trombone; Georg Maus: bass trombone; Klaus Wegenleiter: piano; Klaus-Peter Schoepfer: guitar; Decebal Badila: bass: Guido Joeris: drums.

Title: Fun Time and More Live | Year Released: 2011

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