Sal Nistico's explosive tenor solos with Woody Herman in the mid-'60s helped make that edition of Herman's Herd into a success. Born in Syracuse, New York, on April 2, 1938, Nistico was originally an altoist, but switched to tenor in 1956, playing with Rhythm & Blues bands for three years.
He gigged with and made his recording debut in 1959-1960 with the Jazz Brothers, a band also including Chuck and Gap Mangione. But it was while with Herman in 1962-1965 that Nistico made history. In 1965, he spent five months with Count Basie. He returned to Basie in 1967 and to Herman on several occasions (1968-1970, 1971, 1981-1982), although without the impact of the first stint.
Otherwise, the tenor freelanced throughout his career, playing with Don Ellis and Buddy Rich but mostly working with pick-up groups. Nistico recorded for several labels as a leader including Riverside, Red, and Beehive.