Cover The Sammy Sessions

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Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)


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  • 1Toni05:51
  • 2Cell Talk04:01
  • 3Moonlight On The Ganges03:45
  • 4Close Enough For Love04:33
  • 5Shirley04:22
  • 6I’ll Follow My Secret Heart 05:53
  • 7Hip Music05:31
  • 8A Cool Breeze05:33
  • 9Tippin’ in04:27
  • 10Softly From My Window00:00
  • 11Franky & Johnny05:22
  • 12Poor Butterfly05:23
  • 13Dimensions in Blue02:27
  • Total Runtime57:08

Info for The Sammy Sessions

“America’s Big Band,” the US Army Jazz Ambassadors, based in Washington, D.C., has teamed up with legendary composer and arranger Sammy Nestico for a release of new music recorded in high-resolution audio. Of the 13 tracks, seven are Sammy originals—Toni, Cell Talk, Shirley, Hip Music Box, A Cool Breeze, Softly From My Window and Dimensions in Blue. The rest were composed by others but arranged by Sammy—Moonlight on the Ganges, Close Enough for Love (Johnny Mandel), I'll Follow My Secret Heart (Noel Coward), Tippin' In (Erskine Hawkins), Frankie & Johnny and Poor Butterfly.

“The Sammy Sessions” features six new Sammy Nestico tunes, including “Toni,” written for his longtime friend singer Toni Tenille, “Cell Talk,” and a Basie-like tribute to his wife “Shirley.” Sammy’s reworking of “Moonlight on the Ganges” and “Frankie and Johnny” reintroduces these tunes to a new generation, along with four other standards. “The Sammy Sessions,” demonstrates that the US Army Jazz Ambassadors is one of the premier modern large jazz ensembles of America, with an emphasis on musical innovation. The US Army Jazz Ambassadors tour nationally and internationally.

Pittsburghers (people from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) are very proud of being from Pittsburgh. You might not be aware of it, but Pittsburgh talent appears world-wide in many roles, especially in the arts: George Benson, Martha Graham, Gene Kelly, Henry Mancini, Adolphe Menjou, Billy Strayhorn, Andy Warhol; all household names. OK, perhaps you’ve not heard of Adolphe Menjou, but you would know him if you saw him. I am from Pittsburgh, too, and I don’t mean to insinuate myself into this list, but let me also include this name: Sammy Nestico. Sammy is a Pittsburgh area native who holds a degree from a fine Pittsburgh university: B.S. Music Education from Duquesne University, as do I. Although we are separated by many years in graduating from DU, we shared many of the same instructors at the Duquesne University School of Music. The first album that I can recall being aware of Sammy’s arranging and composing was released in the early 1960’s with Count Basie and his Orchestra performing. That vinyl release was titled “Basie-Straight Ahead” and straight ahead clearly describes Sammy’s music, then, and now. A few years have passed since that album, but Sammy’s arranging is still swinging and vital and he was in the studio conducting the band during these sessions. This new recording with the Jazz Ambassadors will place you in Sammy’s choice spot, either in the middle of the band in the surround or immersive playback formats, or the band will be ‘straight ahead’ of you as you listen to the stereo mix. Either way you’re able to listen, Pittsburgher Sammy Nestico and the Jazz Ambassadors have some great music for you expertly played by an outstanding American modern big band. After you’re done swinging, I suggest watching an Adolphe Menjou film. I recommend “Dancing in the Dark,” starring William Powell, who’s also from Pittsburgh. (Liner Notes by Jim Anderson)

“The Sammy Sessions” is released by IAN productions, in cooperation with producer and Grammy Award winner Jim Anderson, and succeeds in capturing the genuine and immediate power of big band performance. IAN’s production philosophy is to make the listener feel as if they were there in the same room with the musicians, sharing the deep pleasure of music.

Jazz Ambassadors
Sammy Nestico, musical direction

Produced, mixed and engineered by Jim Anderson

Sammy Nestico
has been on the music scene for many years. It could be said that he’s the most well-known big band arranger on the scene and he has worked with Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Bing Crosby, Johnny Mercer and Toni Tennille, to name a very few. This recording’s opening track “Toni” was written for her, originally. For the first time, Sammy has written new compositions and arrangements specifically for the Jazz Ambassadors. 

Famous for his arrangements for the Count Basie orchestra, Sammy Nestico -- a cousin of tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico -- has always had a productive, if lesser-known, solo career. Self-taught on the trombone, at age 17 Nestico was skilled enough to be a studio musician in Pittsburgh. He served in the military, gained a music degree at Duquesne University in 1950 and was staff arranger for the U.S. Air Force Band for many years. Nestico was also a busy freelance arranger: he worked with the U.S. Marine Band starting in 1963 and led the orchestra that performed at functions at the White House. Nestico started contributing arrangements to Basie in 1967 and during the next 15 years would occasionally write for an entire Basie album (including Have a Nice Day, ) Prime Time, Warm Breeze and the big band tracks on 88 Basie Street). Nestico has also written extensively for films and television, has been a significant jazz educator and recorded one album as a leader: Dark Orchid (a 1982 Palo Alto release).

The Jazz Ambassadors
  was formed in 1969 and is the official touring big band of the United States Army. Over the years, “America’s Big Band” has included many fine musicians that have gone on to further acclaim, including drummer Steve Gadd. Throughout the year, the band has a full schedule of concerts, touring, and recording.

Booklet for The Sammy Sessions

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