August is a special month for KUVO Jazz as every August 29 we celebrate another anniversary, this year we will toast to our 32nd year of providing jazz to Denver, the Front Range and beyond. In honor of this special occasion, we have selected a superb recording as our monthly spotlight. It’s the swinging SWR Big Band from Stuggart, Germany that has amazed audiences since its founding in 1951. Over the decades, the SWR has collaborated with some of the finest names in jazz, Miles Davis, Frank Foster, Chick Corea, Arturo Sandoval, Roy Hargrove and dozens more. Their latest recording is A Cool Breeze and features the outstanding Sammy Nestico as composer, arranger and conductor of the 17-piece SWR Big Band. Now a spry 93 years of age, Sammy was 91 when this recording took place.
Sammy Nestico is on the long list of jazz greats hailing from Pittsburgh, PA. Sammy began his career in 1941 while still in high school when he became the staff arranger for radio station WCAE. As a trombonist Nestico hit the road playing with Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa and Woody Herman adding a few arrangements to their song book. By the early 1950s Sammy stopped playing trombone to focus on his composing and arranging skills. He worked for Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra and others, he also became heavily involved in the film and TV industry writing arrangements for such stand out shows as Mod Squad, Mission Impossible, Mannix and films that include The Color Purple and The Little Children among others. A Cool Breeze is a collection of 14 tantalizing tunes, six of which are Nestico originals, the other eight songs are by other composers but refreshingly arranged by Sammy to make them sound like new tunes, of particular note is the total reconstruction of the traditional Frankie & Johnny and a new sound for Benny Golson’s Along Came Betty. SWR Big Band’s latest is titled A Cool Breeze, but it is a sizzling, hot 'n swingin’ album guaranteed to get you up and dancing!