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Sal Nistico: HEAVYWEIGHTS

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Got a large Fantasy order not too long ago & have been slowly, joyously working my way through it. I think there may have been discussion of the Sal Nistico twofer CD back on the old BNBB in 2002--if not, any fan of Nistico & his work with Woody Herman would be well advised to give this reissue a shot. I particularly like the lineup on the first half of the CD (the original HEAVYWEIGHTS LP, minus "Just Friends") which features Nat Adderley on cornet, Barry Harris on piano (really diggin' him on "Au Private"), Sam Jones on bass, and Walter Perkins on drums. Just great, swinging early-60's bop.

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I notice that Nistico recorded only sporadically as a leader throughout his career... any recommendations on where to go next (besides the Herman Philips recordings) for more?

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On Red Records; Sal w/an Italian rhythm section. Rec. in Rome 2/27/88

All standards- very enjoyable side! :tup

Come Rain Or Come Shine

Lush Life

Inner Urge

Empty Room (Nistico/Gould)

I Should Care

The Hymn

Edited by Free For All

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I also like this one. Sal recorded live in Half Moon Bay, CA on 2/1/81 with

Mark Levine (piano), Peter Barshay (bass) and Bobby Rosenstein (drums). I don't know the last two guys other than this recording, but it's another good one. Mostly standards.

How Deep Is The Ocean

Stella Wise (Mobley)

You Stepped Out Of A Dream

I Can't Get Started (most people think of the fast tempos when they think of Sal- he could play the shit out of a ballad too!)

Backlog (Nistico)

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Neo/Nistico on Bee Hive is excellent!

That would have been my first pick.

And if you can find it, there's a live Enja thing (from november, 1988) by the "Proter-Praskin Quartet with Sal Nestico" (which makes 5) called SONNET FOR SAL that is heartbreakingly beautiful. Possibly his last recording (the last that's yet to surface, anyway), and you can tell by the cover photo that he's on the way out (kinda like those photos of Bird his last few years - they're both bloated and have a "see ya later" look). No standards w/pickup rhythm sections, or gunslinging tenor for hire (and although I never met the man, I get a distinct impression that that was a role that he was never able to shake, although he might well ahve wanted to, just a hunch) work here - the music is original, thoughtful, and Sal gets into in a way that he didn't always do post-Herman. He's SINGING on some of the pieces, so soulful is his playing.

It's Enja CD 8026-2 if you want to sleuth for it. It'll be a birchandahalf to find (I got a burn from a friend who had been looking for it for years before finding it), but damn if it won't be worth it.

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e51171ijwee.jpg

That photo always saddens me.

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A very good recording featuring Nistico is Don Menza's 1981 Palo Alto LP, Hip Pocket. Instead of his usual tenor Menza plays alto and baritone while Nistico plays tenor. Very strong compositions and playing by the entire group.

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"Empty Room" is really soulful. Sal was a special player. A guy who reminds me of him a bit and is still around is another ex-Hermanite (I think), Frank Vicari. Don't know where to find much Vicari. He solos on an album I wrote the notes for a few years back -- (excellent) vocalist Anita Gravine's "Welcome To My Dream" (remarkable Mike Abene charts on the album's big band tracks) -- and a friend sent me a tape a few years ago of Vicari in a club with a local rhythm section.

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I like all the Sal I've ever heard a lot. As Larry says he was a special player. I have some material not out on cd as far as I can tell live in an LA club that I really like as well as most anything. Nistico playing "Lester Leaps In" is a blast!

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Another good 'un, dang near impossible to find: "East of Isar" on the Ego label, out of Germany. I got it because Benny Bailey was along for the ride, and it really opened my ears to Sal.

I stumbled onto that Porter-Praskin thing in a deep-discount bin about six years back. Wow!

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Without going too much into detail, I've gained the impression that Nistico kinda "lost his way" once he got off the road regularly. He's not at all unusual in that regard, since there are certain guys who were just BORN to be road dogs, and Sal Nistico may very well have been one of them. They often come to hate it, but it's really what they were put here to do, and they ineveitably do it better than well.

I've got video footage of Nistico playing w/Basie (I understand that he went into that fold once or twice as a "vacation" from Herman) , and he fits in like he's been there all his life, even when trading fours w/Eric Dixon (iirc). One of the definitive "big band tenorists" of the post-WWII era. It's a whole 'nother gig than just being a "jazz tenorist" - you gotta be able to jump in and jump out at the drop of a hat, be able to play in and around ALL kinds of backgrounds (written and improvised) of various styles (not all of them - to put it mildly - sympathetic to the soling you're trying to do) without losing focus (in fact, it's your job to make those backgrounds sound like they're spurring you on when in fact they might be doing just the opposite), PLUS you gotta be able to make a meaningful ballad statement anytime the leader sees fit, often inside an arrangement that is even MORE unsympathetic than the uptempo ones. So it's a lot of "going against the grain".

In other words, it's a job for somebody who has the balls and the chops to just walk right in, say "fuck it", and just PLAY THE GIG without any hesitiaton, faltering, or self-doubt. If that sounds like it's not easy, well, hell - it's not! Yet there are guys who thrive on it, and there are guys whose playing gets bumped up a notch or three when everything IS clicking. And Sal Nistico was one of the greatest practitoners of the art. Check him out on "Keep On Keepin' On" from Woody's otherwise all-pop LIGHT MY FIRE album on Cadet - this mofo is phkkin' BURNING in the most intense way.

There's an interview w/Sal and Tubby Hayes somewhere on the Net, and in it I can sense that Sal was already getting a little tired of the "routine". And of course, he eventually left it. But like I said, I think he might have "lost his way" after doing so, because on "freelance" sides like EMPTY ROOM the Half Moon Bay thing, I really feel a guy who's standing up there playing his heart out waiting for the big band to kick in. And it never does. And, yes, I think he misses it.

You get into certain playing habits playing ANY kind of a gig night after night after night, and I would suspect that Sal did what he did so well for so long that he may very well have gotten a little "disoriented" when his life became one of not having to do endless one-nighters ranging from cornball dances to hip club dates, not having to sleep on the bus, not having jump in real quick and get off 32 or 64 bars of kickass tenor and then get right back out, of not knowing that no matter what you play or how you play it, there's eventually going to be a bunch of horns chiming in behind your ass so proceed accordingly, of not having a lot of things that he probably took for granted on a subconscious level being there w/o thinking about them.

That kind of fundamental lifestyle change can mess a man up.

Edited by JSngry

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Neo/Nistico on Bee Hive is excellent!

I would agree with the Beehive, smokin' music!

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Recently I had the pleasure of transferring from LP to CDR for a friend Nistico's 1975 Horo recording, Jazz A Confronto with a group of Italian musicians including pianist Enrico Pieranunzi. Worth hearing.

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And if you can find it, there's a live Enja thing (from november, 1988) by the "Porter-Praskin Quartet with Sal Nestico" (which makes 5) called SONNET FOR SAL that is heartbreakingly beautiful.

It's Enja CD 8026-2 if you want to sleuth for it. It'll be a birchandahalf to find (I got a burn from a friend who had been looking for it for years before finding it), but damn if it won't be worth it.

Strangely enough, I just found this disc at fye.com.

Would love to hear Neo/Nistico. But as it's on Bee Hive, the only way is vinyl or vinyl rip.

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"Comin' On Up" is the shit.

Take it from a Western New York boy.

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Sal Nistico (tenor sax); Sal Amico (trumpet); Barry Harris (piano); Bob Cranshaw (bass); Vinnie Ruggiero (drums).

I have no idea about this one:

3641_1.JPG

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Another good 'un, dang near impossible to find: "East of Isar" on the Ego label, out of Germany. I got it because Benny Bailey was along for the ride, and it really opened my ears to Sal.

I have that one, and saw the band live before the session, and they were, of course, smokin' a lot more than on the record.

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Walmart, of all places, has the OOP and hard-to-find Nistico album "Live" from the late 80's.

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Walmart, of all places, has the OOP and hard-to-find Nistico album "Live" from the late 80's.

They must have sold out in the last 10 minutes. It was "out of stock" online and is not sold in their stores.

Edited by mikelz777

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And, BTW, Empty Room is on iTunes (Plus! 256k-- woohoo) for $5.94.

Sounds really good.

Anyone have the (attached) album?

post-282-1221495235_thumb.jpg

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