The Swing can't be killed. It emerged in the twenties and thirties as a new form of jazz, which until then had mainly been on the road as Dixieland. On this side of the Atlantic, swing experienced its peak of popularity immediately after the Second World War as music of liberation and rediscovered joie de vivre. A not inconsiderable contribution to this was made by the dance ability of this form of jazz, which captivated young people in particular in the first post-war years. After the boys and girls had long since switched to rock 'n' roll, swing remained popular with big bands well into the seventies. Even today it is an indispen-sable part of the concert appearances for this form of big band. Between 1970 and 1984, the Count Basie Orchestra recorded no less than ten swing albums under his arranger Sam-my Nestico, four of which won Grammy Awards. Sammy Nestico, who spent World War II as a musician in the US Army, made a name for himself after his military career as a com-poser and arranger of popular US artists such as Phil Collins, Sarah Vaughan, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra. He is still active as a composer and arranger on the brand-new album The Sammy Sessions, which features the US Army Touring Jazz Orchestra, which conducts Jazz Ambassadors.
The current nineteen-member orchestra of the US Army was founded in 1969 during the Cold War when the US State Department exported jazz worldwide under the label Jazz Ambassadors as an ambassador of freedom, US style. In the USA, the Jazz Ambassadors enjoy great popularity as a big band. In Europe the Jazz Ambassadors could be seen at the International Jazz Festival in Montreux, in Brussels and in the Netherlands. Their martial appearance in military uniforms may have been quite alienating during their appearances in Europe. In the USA, on the other hand, pride in their own army is so strongly established that the band's appearance in uniform benefits their popularity.
Whatever you may think of the military look, of which the audio-only information of the download doesn't convey anything anyway, you have to admit that this big band celebrates the swing titles on The Sammy Sessions authentically and consistently captivating. The musicians' instrumental perfection is breathtaking. The enormous momentum that is expressed here unrestrained and indispensable for real swing enjoyment, but also the relaxed atmosphere with all the momentum is certainly not attributable to a small part of Sam Nestico, who is responsible for seven of the thirteen titles - Toni, Cell Talk, Shirley, Hip Music Box, A Cool Breeze, Softly From My Window and Dimensions in Blue - as composer and arranged all the titles, tailored to the Jazz Ambassadors' unique needs.
If you want to refresh your old Swing passion, but also if you want to rediscover Swing as a former music of liberation and rediscovered joie de vivre, the album The Sammy Sessions, perfectly realized on all levels, is the perfect album for you.
Sammy Nestico, musical direction