|Birth name||Samuel Louis Nistico|
|Born||February 6, 1924|
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||January 17, 2021 96)(aged|
|Associated acts||Count Basie|
|Service/|| United States Army |
United States Air Force
United States Marine Corps
|Years of service||1942–1947, 1951–1963, 1963-67|
|Unit|| U.S. Army Combat Engineers |
United States Air Force Band
United States Marine Band
Samuel Louis Nistico (February 6, 1924 – January 17, 2021), better known as Sammy Nestico, was an American composer and arranger. Nestico is best known for his arrangements for the Count Basie orchestra.
Samuel Luigi Nistico was born on February 6, 1924, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Luigi Nistico, an Italian immigrant, and Frances Mangone. His father was a railroad worker. During childhood, Sammy Americanized his name to Samuel Louis Nestico.Nestico joined the Oliver High School beginner orchestra in 1937 as a trombonist. In 1939, he wrote his first arrangement. At age 17, Nestico joined the ABC radio station WCAE in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a trombonist.
During World War II, Nestico joined the US Army and served for five years. After leaving the military, he completed a degree in music education at Duquesne University. His alma mater later awarded him with an honorary Doctor of Music degree and the Distinguished Alumni award.After earning his degree, Nestico then returned to the military, where he arranged music for the U.S. Air Force Band (1950–1963), as well as leading the Glenn Miller Army Air Corps dance band, which would later become known as the Airmen of Note. In 1963, he switched to the Marines and became director and arranger of the U.S. Marine Band, where he served under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. During his tenure, a composition by Nestico led President Johnson to remark "You call this music?" In 2009, Nestico said in an interview "I didn't answer, although I didn't think [Johnson's] concept of music was worth a damn."
After leaving the military, Nestico became a freelance arranger. He began working as an arranger for Count Basie in 1967, and wrote and arranged all the music for Basie's 1968 LP Basie Straight Ahead . Nestico continued to provide arrangements for Basie until Basie's death in 1984, and four of Nestico's collaborations with Basie earned Grammy Awards. During his career, Nestico composed, arranged, or conducted albums for musicians and singers including Quincy Jones, Phil Collins, Barbra Streisand, Michael Buble, Natalie Cole, Sarah Vaughan, Toni Tennille, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby. In addition, he played trombone, in the big bands of Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, and Charlie Barnet. He conducted and recorded his arrangements with several leading European Radio Jazz Orchestras, including the BBC Big Band in London, Germany's SWR Big Band and NDR Big Band and the DR Big Band, as well as the Boston Pops Orchestra in America.
Nestico had a long career in the film and television industry. As orchestrator, he worked on nearly seventy television programs, including Mission: Impossible ,Mannix , M*A*S*H , Charlie's Angels , and The Mod Squad . He also worked as an arranger for the 81st Academy Awards, as well as some Grammy Awards. He worked as an orchestrator and arranger for the film The Color Purple . Nestico composed commercial jingles for Anheuser-Busch, Zenith, Ford Motor Company, Mattel Toys, Pittsburgh Paint, the National Guard, Dodge, Remington Bank, and Americard.
In the late 1960s, Sammy worked as an arranger and orchestrator for Capitol Records. In a partnership with Billy May, Nestico was involved in the transcription, arranging, and re-recording of 630 big band songs originally recorded in the 1930s and 1940s. This effort eventually resulted in the release of 63 albums by Time Life.
Beginning in 1982, Nestico began releasing solo albums, with Dark Orchid" as his debut album. His solo albums eventually earned him four Grammy Award nominations, besides the awards he earned with Count Basie: in 2002 for his album This Is The Moment and for the arrangement "Kiji Takes A Ride"; in 2009 for his album Fun Time; and in 2016 for his arrangement "Good 'Swing' Wenceslas".
Nestico also had a career in music education, teaching at the University of Georgia from 1998 to 1999, where he taught orchestration and conducted the studio orchestra; after which he retired to Carlsbad, California, near San Diego. He wrote hundreds of arrangements for school band and jazz band programs. He wrote many books, including The Complete Arranger, first published in 1993, and has since been revised and published in at least four languages. His autobiography, The Gift of Music, was published in 2009. At the time of his death, a feature-length documentary film titled Shadow Man: The Sammy Nestico Story was in production.
Nestico published nearly 600 numbers for school groups and many for professional big bands.
From 1998–1999 Nestico was a professor at the University of Georgia, teaching commercial orchestration and conducting the studio orchestra.He also directed music programs at Los Angeles Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California, Westinghouse Memorial High School, and Wilmerding, Pennsylvania.
Nestico married his second wife, Shirley, in 1995, and was married to her until his death. He had three sons with his first wife. Nestico died on January 17, 2021 at the age of 96. He will be given a military burial later in 2021.
Nestico received honorary Doctor of Music degrees from Duquesne University and in 2005 from Shenandoah University. He also received a distinguished alumni award from Duquesne, and in 1994 was inducted into Duquesne's "Century Club". He received awards from North Texas State University in 1978, 1979, and 1980. He was also honored by ASMAC and the Big Band Academy of America.The Airmen of Note, the premier jazz ensemble of the USAF, sponsor an annual competition, the "Sammy Nestico Award" for composers and arrangers of big band music, named in his honor.
This list is incomplete. Sources:
With Count Basie
With Frank Sinatra
With Sarah Vaughan
In music, an arrangement is a musical reconceptualization of a previously composed work. It may differ from the original work by means of reharmonization, melodic paraphrasing, orchestration, or development of the formal structure. Arranging differs from orchestration in that the latter process is limited to the assignment of notes to instruments for performance by an orchestra, concert band, or other musical ensemble. Arranging "involves adding compositional techniques, such as new thematic material for introductions, transitions, or modulations, and endings. Arranging is the art of giving an existing melody musical variety".
William James "Count" Basie was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. In 1935, he formed the Count Basie Orchestra, and in 1936 took them to Chicago for a long engagement and their first recording. He led the group for almost 50 years, creating innovations like the use of two "split" tenor saxophones, emphasizing the rhythm section, riffing with a big band, using arrangers to broaden their sound, and others. Many musicians came to prominence under his direction, including the tenor saxophonists Lester Young and Herschel Evans, the guitarist Freddie Green, trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry "Sweets" Edison, plunger trombonist Al Grey, and singers Jimmy Rushing, Helen Humes, Thelma Carpenter, and Joe Williams.
Neal Paul Hefti was an American jazz trumpeter, composer, and arranger. He wrote music for The Odd Couple movie and TV series and for the Batman TV series.
Harry "Sweets" Edison was an American jazz trumpeter and a member of the Count Basie Orchestra. His greatest impact was as a Hollywood studio musician, whose muted trumpet can be heard backing singers, most notably Frank Sinatra.
The Count Basie Orchestra is a 16 to 18 piece big band, one of the most prominent jazz performing groups of the swing era, founded by Count Basie in 1935 and recording regularly from 1936. Despite a brief disbandment at the beginning of the 1950s, the band survived long past the Big Band era itself and the death of Basie in 1984. It continues under the direction of trumpeter Scotty Barnhart.
Bob Florence was an American pianist, composer, arranger, and big band leader.
Frank Benjamin Foster III was an American tenor and soprano saxophonist, flautist, arranger, and composer. Foster collaborated frequently with Count Basie and worked as a bandleader from the early 1950s. In 1998, Howard University awarded Frank Foster with the Benny Golson Jazz Master Award.
Salvatore Nistico was an American jazz tenor saxophonist.
Willis Leonard Holman, known professionally as Bill Holman, is an American composer, arranger, conductor, saxophonist, and songwriter working in jazz and traditional pop. His career is over seven decades long, having started with the Charlie Barnet orchestra in 1950.
Send in the Clowns is a 1981 studio album by Sarah Vaughan, accompanied by the Count Basie Orchestra.
Have a Nice Day is a 1971 studio album by Count Basie and his orchestra, with all music composed and arranged by Sammy Nestico.
Basie Big Band is a 1975 studio album by Count Basie and his orchestra.
Basie Straight Ahead is an album recorded at TTG Studios, Hollywood, California in October 1968 featuring Count Basie and his orchestra. This album marked the first collaboration between Basie and his long-time orchestrator, Sammy Nestico, who composed, arranged and conducted all of the songs on the record. The engineers were Ami Hadani and Thorne Nogar, and the producers were Tom Mack and Teddy Reig. The disc was issued in 1968 on Dot label and on English EMI.
Victor Schoen was an American bandleader, arranger, and composer whose career spanned from the 1930s until his death in 2000. He furnished music for some of the most successful persons in show business including Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Les Brown, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, George Shearing, Jimmie Lunceford, Ray McKinley, Benny Carter, Louis Prima, Russ Morgan, Guy Lombardo, Carmen Cavallaro, Carmen Miranda, Gordon Jenkins, Joe Venuti, Victor Young, Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, and his own The Vic Schoen Orchestra.
Prime Time is an album by Count Basie that won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance by a Big Band in 1978.
88 Basie Street is a 1983 studio album by Count Basie.
Fancy Pants is a 1983 studio album by Count Basie and his orchestra. This is the last recording that Basie made with his big band.
Bing 'n' Basie is a 1972 vinyl album recorded for Daybreak Records by Bing Crosby, accompanied by Count Basie and his Orchestra. The orchestral tracks were laid down over three days at the end of February and the beginning of March, 1972 at Amigo Studios, North Hollywood. Crosby added his voice to the pre-recorded orchestral tracks during three sessions on March 14, 15, and 16, 1972 at Coast Recorders Studio, Bush Street, San Francisco. Bing Crosby also added his voice to "If I Had a Hammer" and while this has appeared on pirate issues it has never been commercially released.
On the Road is an album by the Count Basie Orchestra that won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Big Band in 1981.
Warm Breeze is a 1980 studio album by Count Basie and his orchestra.
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