It’s been over a decade now since the death of saxophonist and composer Sal Nistico and as of yet no substantive rediscovery of his talent has yet to take place. However, that might change now with the reissue of his first two recordings as a leader. Nistico’s maiden voyage was the 1961 Jazzland set Heavyweights, which put him in the fast company of trumpeter Nat Adderley, pianist Barry Harris, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Walter Perkins. This would be followed the next year by the Riverside release of Comin’ On Up!, again featuring Barry Harris, but now with the lesser known trumpeter Sal Amico on the front line with Nistico.
As could be expected from a debut recording, Heavyweights is the the more workman like of the two sets, with cuts such as “Au Privave” and “My Old Flame” included obviously to show that Nistico could handle the standard repertoire. He does hold his own and the ebullient Adderley blends perfectly with Nistico’s round timbre (it’s a sound not unlike that of the late Hank Mobley). Comin’ On Up! seems to pack more of a punch and Nistico sounds even more assured. The Latin tinge of “Samicotico” is a blast, as is the up tempo fervor of “Comin’ On Up.” Both of these sets have been long unavailable and show Nistico to be worthy of reevaluation. Enjoy!
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.
The world of jazz is a musical space with a complex history and haunting appeal--a space to revisit and celebrate. It’s that
amazing moment when you hear a really great song you haven't heard in years and you still know the tune and every word.