Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sammy Nestico - Dark Orchid (1982)

Not to say this album is bad, but it is a strange album for a variety of reasons. This album defies time period. Despite being released in 1982, this seems like an album much more at home in the mid to late 70s with its funky beats and Rhodes piano. Yes, there is original material, but Nestico brings back reworked versions of Basie classics. It is important to note that even if you don't know the name Sammy Nestico, you probably know Count Basie. Nestico arranged a fair amount of material for Basie and some of his most well-known charts at that. Still, the Basie material is in vast contrast with the rest of the album as well as time period. This album defies typical big band instrumentation to some degree. Sure, most of the sections are very typical, but the harmonized flute sections and the melodic synthesizer is something pretty atypical for a big band record. What may be most strange is that this album is funk in some sections, yet even in funk it still swings. This may very well be the only album in a theoretical sub-genre of funk swing, when you consider the funk feel in the rhythm section with swing feel in the orchestrated parts of the horns. Yet, despite the bizarre nature of some parts of this album, it still has some great moments. Track highlights include "This Is Love" and "Shoreline Drive" showing off the soloistic virtuosity of trombonist Bill Watrous and tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb respectively. On "This Is Love" Watrous' trombone is in unison with  his own overdubbed whistling. This is worth a listen if only for the first four tracks which represent the "funk swing." This album is also very difficult to find, even on vinyl.