There’s a distinct twinkle in [Sammy’s] personality, like that of a storybook toymaker.

Marc Meyers, JazzWax

This week, we want to remember the great Sammy Nestico, a beloved figure in the jazz world, known for his legacy of compositions and arrangements. He passed away January 17, 2021.

Sammy Nestico (February 6, 1924 – January 17, 2021)

Yesterday, we learned of the passing of a great jazz figure, arranger and composer Sammy Nestico, just shy of his 97th birthday. Over his long career, he contributed a significant number of charts that were the backbone of many scholastic ensembles, providing content that was tasteful, instructive, and useful for every situation. He started this long career of writing at the age of seventeen, working for a local Pittsburgh radio station. Later, he was a staff writer for the U.S. Pacific Air Forces Band in D.C., the Navy, and led the Airmen of Note. Not only was Nestico a great arranger and composer, but he was also a fine trombone player who enjoyed time with Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, and Woody Herman.

From 1970-1984, Nestico served as the staff arranger for the Count Basie Orchestra, scribing a number of tunes that can now be found in every big band library. During his career, Nestico also wrote for a variety of films and television programs, as well as arranged for Phil Collins, Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Bing Crosby and many others.

In November of 1998, the CJO had the honor of doing a concert with Sammy Nestico, which later led to a CD called Swingin’ Together. At the conclusion of the show, Nestico said: “One of the sincerest pleasures I’ve had in 55 years in the music profession was to be able to work alongside the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra.” He said the CJO “strikes a very handsome chord for the cause of jazz!”

It was truly our pleasure, Sammy.
Thank you for the music. You will be missed.

From the Swingin’ Together album the CJO recorded with Sammy, here is “Smack Dab in the Middle”:

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Don’t Miss Out!

Saturday, February 13th, catch the CJO Little Big Band and Dominick Farinacci for a Bop Stop livestream concert!

Did you enjoy our Bop Stop show with the Roots of American Music?
What other groups would you like to see us collaborate with? Let us know!