While some people may feel the compositions and arrangements by Sammy Nestico are dated, I have always loved his music and count Nestico as being one of my biggest influences. In the summer of 1993 the now defunct International Association of Jazz Educators published an interview of Nestico by percussionist and composer Dave Black. Black has made his interview available here.
One of my favorite questions by Black, and Nestico’s response, was:
Do you have a special approach to your writing which has made your compositions so successful?
It’s hard to answer that question. I’ve always felt that there are three elements in music – melody, harmony, and rhythm – and I try to make my music as melodic as possible. I love Tchaikovsky! When you go to the Hollywood Bowl to hear Tchaikovsky, it takes two nights to play all his music because people love to hear melodies. I always think about an audience listening to my music, so I’m very conscious about melody first, harmony second, and rhythm last. That’s the rule I try to follow, and it seems to please the people who like my music.
Today’s contemporary music, however, very successfully reverses these elements – rhythm has become the most important element, melody is second in importance and harmony is third.