A remembrance of Sammy Nestico

A couple of days ago, world-renowned arranger, Sammy Nestico, died. I will alway cherish memories of high school and college jazz band, learning to play his charts–especially “, Straight Ahead.”

As a college trumpet teacher teaching a wide range of trumpet interests in my studio, I will occasionally get out the “Basie-Nestico” lead trumpet book compilation published by Kendor.

For my jazz/commercial-oriented students, I will often recommend a great solo by –“Portrait of a Trumpet,” dedicated to Conrad Gozzo. I’d like to share a live performance I did of this piece seven years ago. RIP, Sammy Nestico.

The best consolation–music of Adolphus Hailstork

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and this great man said, “Music is the best consolation for a despaired man.”

There are not many classical composers. And of those who wrote for the trumpet, very few. I am familiar with the great Ulysses Kay, who wrote Tromba for trumpet and piano and Three Fanfares for Four Trumpets. There is also Frederick C. Tillis, who wrote a piece for piccolo trumpet and piano called Spiritual Fantasy. The amazing contemporary black , Tyshawn Sorey, has written an unaccompanied trumpet piece called “For Peter Evans (Apologies for the Brevity).”

American composer, Adolphus Hailstork

But as far as I am aware, the most prolific African-American composer for the trumpet is Adolphus Hailstork. He wrote Concertino for trumpet, Four Hymns without Words, Sonata for Trumpet all for trumpet and piano. Also, he wrote a brass quartet, Bagatelles for Brass, and a brass trio, Ghosts in Grey and Blue.

He also wrote a wonderful unaccompanied piece called Variations for Trumpet. I learned about this piece and most of the others mentioned on this post by the great Howard University trumpet teacher and jazz band director, Fred Irby, III. I did a live recording of this piece today. I think you’ll agree that this piece, while challenging for the trumpeter, can be a great consolation to perform.