Sal Nistico (ts), Frank Strazzeri (p), Frank De La Rosa (b), John Dentz, Chuck Piscitello (d)
Reference: FSRCD 941
Bar code: 8427328609418
In June 1979, Carmelo’s—a neighborhood Italian restaurant in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles—set up a small space to offer jazz seven nights a week in an intimate setting. Despite sitting no more than a hundred patrons, Carmelo’s soon became one of the most popular jazz restaurants in Los Angeles, inviting bands from the local scene as well as name performers and illustrious soloists who were visiting the city.
This 2-CD set presents one of those exciting live performances, recorded January 22, 1981. Showcased on the spot that night was the quartet led by the invigorating tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico, with flawless rhythm support by the energetic driving piano of Frank Strazzeri, bassist Frank De La Rosa, and drummer John Dentz.
Nistico’s surging and full-bodied solos are a pure joy—blisteringly hot and imaginative at up-tempos, and equally eloquent and compelling on mid-tempos and ballads. Jazz fans have unfairly overlooked Sal Nistico (1938-1991), maybe because so many great tenor soloists came out of his generation, but these previously unreleased recordings are sure to please his old fans, as well as reach younger listeners who will appreciate his powerful sound and style.
"Listening to sounds from the past helps put the present jazz scene in proper perspective. Sal Nistico had an impressive career with Woody Herman’s Big Band, but for 5 bucks and a two drink minimum, you could see him with his own band of Frank Strazzeri/p, Frank De La Rosa/b and John Dentz/dr at the hip LA Club Carmelo’s.
The place sat maybe 75 people, and it sounds PACKED as Nistico infuses John Coltranesque harmonics along with a Lester Young styled swing on pieces like “Lester Leaps In” and “You Stepped Out of A Dream.” His ballad sound delivers an aria on “My Old Flame” while the rhythm team sizzles and the sparks fly on “Bolivia” and Equinox.” Strazzeri gets a chance in the spotlight on a lovely “Close Enough For Love” while the team volleys like Connors and John McEnroe on “Sweet George Brown.” Don’t leave town without this guy!"
George W. Harris (January 15, 2018)