Nestico first arranged for Basie in 1967 and was responsible for such well-received albums as Prime Time, Warm Breeze and 88 Basin Street. While he deserves our thanks for those past contributions we should also appreciate his luring Quincy Jones back to his roots-and this CD- from decades of dalliance in the lucrative world of pop production. For those who don't know his history, Quincy started as a jazz trumpet player and had an exciting big band of his own which included Phil Woods, Clark Terry and Thad Jones. His first Grammy was in 1963 for arranging Basie's "I Can't Stop Loving You". As conductor for Sinatra, he teamed up with the Count again to create the "Sinatra At the Sands" live album.
The jazz orchestra put together by these two arranger/conductors is a galaxy of stars. How about Hubert Laws, Bill Watrous, Oscar Brashear, Ernie Watts, Kirk Whalum, Warren Leuning and Pete Christlieb, to name only a few! Contributions by Jones include "Hard Sock Dance," and his 1984 Olympics ballad "Grace". His gift for melody is exhibited by updated versions of "Quintessence" and "For Lena and Lennie" from his big band days. On "Quintessence", Don Higgins does a masterful job on the solo which was originally played by Phil Woods. Quincy's "Belly Roll" swings and shuffles along just as it did on Basie's "Lil' Ol' Groovemaker."
Nestico kicks off with a hard-driving "Ya Gotta Try.....Harder!" and an energetic "Joy of Cookin'"featuring Leuning on trumpet and Whalum on tenor. Leuning also does Sweets on "How Sweet It Is." Sammy proves he can be contemporary with his Latin adaption of "Out of the Night." "No Time Like the Present,"based on Rollins' "Doxie," just lights up this CD with those Basie dynamics and the contrast between the laid back ensemble sound and those blazing solos. You'll feel this on Watrous' entry.
Basie's spirit must have been present at this session. Maybe that's why Nestico's "Lizette" reminds me of Quincy and Jones' easy-swinging "Witching Hour" seems in the Nestico mood. Quincy said during a break in the session,"I hope this kind of music never disappears, man." This won't happen as long as there are keepers of the flame like Sammy Nestico and Quincy Jones.