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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sal Nistico - Seems like the good do die young.

Mention the Woody Herman 'herds' and one invariably thinks of the endless chain of tenor saxophone players who graduated with honours from the organisation. Flip Phillips, Stan Getz, Zoot, Al, Richie Kamuca, whom we've looked at earlier and who also died young, are just a few of the many. One of my favourites was Sal Nistico.
Sal, who died in 1991 aged only 51, was one of the new breed of player who'd emerged from the world of jazz/rock - playing with the Mangione Brothers before joining Herman.
With Herman he played Newcastle City Hall in the 1960s and I recall his blistering solo's as if it were yesterday. In fact his style was very much akin to Tubby Hayes. Lots of notes but with a harder edge.
In the 1980s he played the Corner House as a soloist with one of our local rhythm sections - Scott Adair? Willie Payne? Bill Harper? - he blew up a storm that night and it was hard to credit that he only had a few years left.
I do have one important legacy - a recording he made for the BBC in 1982. Sal shares the frontline with Art Theman for some hard-blowing postbop. Theman, as was and is his wont, perhaps blew more futuristic but it was Sal who got the feet tapping with his sheer, intensive drive. Listening to it as I type it hasn't dated one iota; if it has, then I've dated with it.
Lance.
PS: Just been checking out a CD Sal made with Chet Baker - Lorne Lofsky's on guitar - I recall Roly waxing eloquently (as he does) on Lorne. They play a version of "Tangerine" that Chet re-titled "Margarine"!

3 comments :

Russell said...

Hi Lance

I seem to recall Nistico with Stan Tracey at the Corner House on a Saturday night a few years ago. I can't remember much about the gig. Can anyone provide more info ?

Russell

Lance said...

You are correct Russell - it was The Tracey's - father and son on piano and drums - and Roy Babbington on bass.

Yardbird54 said...

Remember seeing Nistico at Ronnie's mid 70s with Gordon Beck,Ron Matthewson & Tony Kinsey, opening for Joe Pass if I remember correctly. Style would be called retro nowadays but he could swing.

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