Synthesis Program Strikes Nostalgic Note

Group will celebrate jazz composer Sammy Nestico by performing pieces exclusively from his body of work

Livestreamed concert February 20, 2021, 7:30 p.m.

BYU’s award-winning jazz ensemble, Synthesis, is known for its seamless fusion of swing, blues and Latin musical styles. This month, the group will celebrate the life and music of beloved jazz composer and educator Sammy Nestico, who passed away this January at age 97. 

Every piece on the upcoming program was either written or arranged by Nestico.

“Nestico is a well-known name to jazz musicians, especially those who played in public school jazz programs in the past,” said director Ray Smith. The composer wrote more than 600 arrangements for school jazz ensembles.

For 70 years, Nestico transformed the world of jazz through his influence and matchless talent. He wrote music for the likes of Count Basie, Bing Crosby, Sarah Vaughn, Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra. Under the title of chief arranger, first for the Air Force jazz ensemble and later for the U.S. Marine Band, he led performances at the White House during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. 

The Synthesis program will include plenty of audience favorites, including “Basie Straight Ahead,” “Magic Flea,” “Queen Bee,” “A Warm Breeze,” “Tall Cotton,” “Wind Machine,” “Samantha,” “Strike Up the Band,” “Hay Burner,” “Switch in Time,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Satin Doll,” “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Dark Orchid.”