SHADOW MAN: The story of Sammy Nestico - a Man & his Music
PLEASE HELP US GET TO $75K - SEE STRETCH GOAL BELOW
SHADOW MAN - The Sammy Nestico Story is a feature-length documentary film that explores the music, art, humanity, impact, and life of Sammy Nestico. It's a story we think needs to be told and also preserved.
Over the past century, Sammy Nestico has been a giant contributor to the world of music - a true maestro - as a composer, orchestrator, writer, and arranger across the genres of classical, jazz, and big band sounds. He is also a quiet giant, helping to mold careers of musicians, some now considered icons. He has often worked behind the scenes ... like a shadow.
His greatest musical love has been working with youngsters and students pursuing their dream. He loves being an educator and mentor. His impact in this area is virtually unmatched.
Sammy recently turned 94 years young. His most recent Grammy nomination came only a year ago, at the age of 93. For over 70 years, he has plied his craft selflessly, and always with a smile.
We all attend the cinema to be entertained, and to be emotionally moved. When a film is a documentary of a life, the primary character becomes the primary storyline. Sammy Nestico has had a transcendent life and this film tells that story. But it is also about the American Dream in the post-Depression era. And it is very much about personal humility, and "paying it forward". With your help, the story will be told and heard; the music will be preserved; and the man who made it ... will live forever.
This film has been a passion project for over 16 years. The success of this Kickstarter (knock on wood) will help a very grateful filmmaker finally complete production and post-production.
Lots of thought went into the Rewards, as you will see, and Sammy was actively involved in that process.
Says diane estelle Vicari: "What a unique privilege it has been to work with Sammy, tell his story, and become his friend. You can't help but love that man."
"It's just notes on paper until you make it music." - Sammy
=== STRETCH GOAL ===
If the campaign reaches $70K - WHICH WE ALREADY HAVE, THANK YOU - we will release a link to Sammy's previously unreleased original music - A SWINGPHONIC COLLECTION - it's 22 minutes, amazing, and when we posted 2 minutes of it on Facebook, it got a zillion plays and likes. We will make it only available to Backers. Some years ago, Sammy had the notion to combine the "literature" of a jazz band with the harmonic structure of a symphony orchestra. He was invited to introduce the concept in Dresden, Germany. The resulting sound was coined with the cool combo-name Swingphonic. It features SWR Big Band with The Bremen Symphony Orchestra, live. You will love it!
If the campaign reaches $75K , EVERY backer at $22 or more will ALSO get a FLAT TROMBONE CARD, signed by Sammy. See ABOUT THE REWARDS section below for an image of this awesome card. Thank you!
By virtue of its fiscal sponsorship, pledges made to this campaign are tax-deductible, to the amount and extent allowable by law. See section on "fiscal sponsorship" - very bottom of page.
SAMMY NESTICO ... THE MUSIC
During a 70+ year career, Sammy was the music arranger for the U.S. Air Force Band, the U.S. Marine Band, and conducted for the White House Orchestra. He composed and arranged for the Count Basie Orchestra for 17 years - picking up where his friend Quincy Jones left off. He has served as a professor at the University of Georgia, and directed music programs at numerous universities. He arranged and conducted projects for Sarah Vaughan, Phil Collins, Toni Tennille, Barbra Streisand, Michael Bublé, and so many others. He worked on countless films, and over 70 television programs including Mission: Impossible, Mannix, and Charlie's Angels. He wrote commercial jingles for Zenith, Ford, Mattel, and Anheuser Busch, to name a few. He is the author of The Complete Arranger, an influential text in the field of music education. To this day, there remain over 600 numbers published by Sammy Nestico still regularly used by schools in their classrooms.
Sammy's first foray into the world of music was as a young trombonist in high school. His mother would implore him to stop practicing and "go outside and play with the other kids". In the 10th grade, he took a paying gig with a music band for two dollars a week, and says: "I pretty much knew right then what I would do the rest of my life". He later played trombone in the big bands of Charlie Barnet, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, and Tommy Dorsey.
Tommy Dorsey had gall bladder surgery in 1952, and Sammy took a leave of absence from the Air Force. He joined the band to play Tommy's solos. In Tommy's biography, pianist Doug Talbot says that Sammy played with so much beauty and such gorgeous tonality, that he was mesmerizing. When Tommy heard of Sammy's level of performance, he returned to the band more quickly than had been anticipated..
Sammy still loves to pick up a trombone (above). He owns a flattened one (you'll have to order the film to hear the story) and he has joked that it is a special and rare trombone because it can play "B Very Flat". (One of our Rewards pays homage to the flattened trombone.) In 1998, while a visiting professor at the University of Georgia, he wrote an arrangement of Georgia On My Mind for the UGA trombone choir (25 trombones) - see below.
Sammy has forged a longtime friendship with the legendary Quincy Jones. Between them they played for, arranged for, and led the esteemed Count Basie Orchestra for three decades.
In a 2010 interview with Sammy for JazzWax, journalist Marc Myers called Count Basie's Straight Ahead, composed and arranged top to bottom by Sammy, one of the finest jazz albums of the 1960's. Sammy arranged 10 Basie albums, four of which won Grammy Awards.
One of his most pleasurable collaborations took place in 2000; Sammy and Quincy joined forces to release Basie and Beyond.
The late, great jazz journalist and educator Dr. Herb Wong said: "Sammy is a wizard. He is a masterful teacher who combines technique, strategy, enthusiasm, humor, humility, and humanity to reach music students in a way that few others ever have."
Sammy was always a self-starter. He pursued his dreams with tenacity. But it was a different type of tenacity than is usually seen today - one not borne of ego nor desire for material success, but borne of a pure desire to achieve quality. As an orchestrator, it was natural for Sammy to work in tandem with others, and he often did so, as the "Shadow Man".
Later in his life, he began to release music under his own moniker, and at an age when most people were retired, Sammy self-taught himself again and learned the difficult art of self-distribution. Two of his more prominent later-in-life releases are below:
Says diane estelle: "Given the length and prolific nature of Sammy's musical career, and his many achievements as a man, we were unsure what - and how much - to include on this Kickstarter page. We decided to focus on highlights and anecdotes. Later on the page, we do the same with Sammy the man, his collaborations, and the film itself."
"I might not be changing the world dramatically, but I like to think I'm helping to improve it, one note at a time." - Sammy
SAMMY ... THE MAN
Sammy's father emigrated from Italy to the U.S. as a teenager. As a child Sammy lived in Pittsburgh; his dad toiled for the railroad. His dad forbade the speaking of Italian at home - "this is America!", he said Sammy credits his dad with instilling in him a work ethic and humility, and a belief in the American Dream. But the Great Depression happened, his parents split up, and at the age of 10, Sammy was the man of the house.
In the late 1930's the great swing bands became popular. Sammy took up the trombone and he listened to performances on the radio, and on his $5 record player. His favorite was Tommy Dorsey.
Sammy listened and analyzed music constantly. He studied and taught himself. He learned to arrange by dissecting every record he bought, focusing especially on the background sounds. "You listen, you imitate, you learn."
In the early 1950's, as Big Band gave way to the early days of rock 'n roll, Sammy re-enlisted in the military.
He became staff arranger for the Air Force Band in Washington, D.C. and soon the leader of the highly regarded Airmen of Note. He helmed the White House Orchestra during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.
Sammy married and raised 3 boys. After his first wife (of 48 years) passed on, he married Shirley who remains the love of his life today. They have been married for 18 years.
Beginning in 1996 and continuing until today, The Airmen of Note sponsor an annual competition for composers and arrangers of big band music. They compete to win ... The Sammy Nestico Award.
"To young people, I like to say - never ever let anyone steal your dreams."
SHADOW ... AND SUBSTANCE
This film is called Shadow Man because Sammy Nestico creates musical greatness only sometimes for himself, more often for others, and always for the pure achievement of creating that greatness. Like a shadow, he is always there, but not necessarily in the forefront.
In February, 2017, Sammy was nominated again for a Grammy at the age of 93. Remarkable.
“If your music doesn’t sound good when these musicians play it, then there’s probably something wrong with your music!” - Sammy
MORE ABOUT THE FILM
Shadow Man tells the story of Sammy Nestico through pictures and sounds, Sammy's own words, and the words of others. Through a combination of live performances, interviews and testimonials, original photography, a library of archival footage, and of course a wealth of unforgettable music, the film grants viewers entrance into the multifaceted world of the maestro.
Sammy has generously shared personal anecdotes about his encounters with many notables including Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Bing Crosby, Barbra Streisand, Phil Collins, George Benson, Michael Buble, and his good friend Quincy Jones. (Quincy granted us a full-length interview and an all access pass to his countless hours of archival footage.) Live performance footage is augmented with clips from television and movies, featuring his work with Julie Andrews, Gene Kelly, Mary Tyler Moore, Toni Tenille, John Williams, and many more. Using music as a bridge, we strive to connect Sammy's journey to our own.
The film shows how Sammy, in his many travels, always prioritized and rekindled his love of teaching, which has made him a legend in music education.
Since 2001, we have documented, in a verite style, Sammy's journey here is the U.S., as well as Japan, Germany, and Italy. Sammy's story reminds us of the importance of determination, kindness, hard work, and following our own dreams.
A NATIONAL TREASURE --- Musicologist Loras Schissel of the Library of Congress has written: "In the Library of Congress, the Sammy Nestico Archive sits beside the archives of Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Gerry Mulligan, and George and Ira Gershwin, as it should. Sammy Nestico and his music are a national treasure."
"In this business, catching a break is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." - Sammy
Says diane estelle: "As a documentary filmmaker, I tell stories. I have embraced many different subjects over time. Some of the subjects I've embraced have been polarizing, and required me to present many perspectives. This perspective of this film is singular. Because if I were asked for the one dominant thing about telling the story of Sammy Nestico, it's that Sammy is quite simply "the real deal". What you see is what you get. His smile and genuine nature is without pretense. As a filmmaker I have never encountered this before. It's a refreshing honesty, and I wish there was more of it in this world today. It's also been quite astounding to me how one man can so often be in the background and yet be larger than life. Sammy is a giant talent who fell in love with music, the art of making music, and the process of sharing and teaching music at an early age. He has never lost enthusiasm for this, even into his 90's. This is a man who became exactly what he was destined to become. Which of us can say that? And because he became who he is, we are all enriched. With this film, my role also expands. I am still a storyteller. But I also feel a greater purpose. I feel compelled to make a film that preserves a unique, powerful, and culturally inspirational legacy of a wonderful man and his amazing music.
He's also quite a painter, by the way. :)
Thanks to all for your generous support."
MEET THE TEAM
diane estelle Vicari - Director and Storyteller
diane estelle Vicari is an accomplished documentarian. She is considered a dynamic storyteller. Over a 25 year career, she has worn many hats. She has a penchant for projects that explore the human spirit, its triumph over adversity, and its potential to fulfill dreams and destinies - thus her attraction to the story of Sammy Nestico. She was born and raised in Montreal, moved to California, graduated from UCLA's Certificate Program in Film and TV, and became the President of the IDA (International Documentary Association) from 2000-2009. She co-founded and chairs the non-profit DOCClub®LA, and formed DOCdance Productions. Prior credits include Bert Stern: Original Madman, the Emmy Award-winning Titanic: Death of a Dream, and Emmy Award-nominee The Last Days of World War II. She has signed to direct Imagining a Better World: The Nelly Toll Story. (While a young girl hiding out during World War II, Toll painted an imaginary world; she emerged from the darkness as an artist, writer and later - a doctor, mother, and therapist.) And of course, she has worked tirelessly to tell the story of a 94 years young true American Master: composer and arranger, Sammy Nestico. In creating the film "Shadow Man", diane Estelle has gotten to know Sammy well over the past 14 years, which in her eyes is a great blessing. She considers Sammy more than one of the greatest contributors to the field of music of the last century - more than a world-class composer, arranger, and collaborator - she knows him to also be an educator who has had tremendous impact with students, a uniquely remarkable person and friend, and a dreamer who knows his dream has been realized. She looks forward to familiarizing the world with Sammy, who - at an age when most people have long retired - continues to set an example to young aspiring musicians as well as dreamers in all walks of life.
Tommy Vicari, CAS - Executive Producer and Music Supervisor
Tommy Vicari is one of Hollywood’s most respected and accomplished recording engineers / music mixers. His 40 year career includes six Grammy nominations (he won twice) a remarkable eighteen Emmy Nominations (he won six), and he has been the music mixer for the Academy Award™ television show for eighteen years running. Artists with whom he has worked include Prince (on his debut record For You), Barbara Streisand, Philip Bailey, Quincy Jones, and Sammy Nestico and Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. Television credits include “Six Feet Under”, “The Newsroom”, and “Angels in America” and his mixing of “Behind the Candelabra” won both an Emmy Award and the Cinema Audio Society Award for excellence in sound mixing. His film credits include Finding Nemo and Wall-E, and he has collaborated with composer Thomas Newman to score over 20 major films. He recently worked alongside Nicholas Brittel to score this past year’s Academy Award nominated film “Moonlight”. He has been married for 40 years and his daughter has made him the very proud “Nonno” of her twins Juliet and Jagger.
Cheng Jin - Video Editor/General Support for this Kickstarter
Cheng Jin is a young, talented artist from China, currently working as cinematographer, documentary filmmaker, and still image photographer (while completing his studies). He has a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast, Television and Journalism from Communication University of China. Originally trained as a journalist, he developed an interest in observational-style documentary, which allows him to think about building a storyline while reciting fact. He presently attends Emerson College in pursuit of a Masters degree in Fine Arts. He has been a veritable godsend to this Kickstarter, and was responsible for - among other things - editing the Project Video.
TIMELINE, BUDGET, & USE OF PROCEEDS
TIMELINE: Based on a successful Kickstarter that concludes and settles in late March. we intend to begin editing in April. In the Fall of 2018, we expect to have a first rough cut, and then begin post-production efforts. We have estimated the delivery of the film by December 2018, but of course there are variables upon which that estimate depends. It is expected that many of the Rewards will be fulfilled earlier.
BUDGET: A major portion of the TOTAL budget to make this film was raised prior to this Kickstarter. We project that if successful, this Kickstarter will provide a big chunk of what remains, and the balance will come from investment contingent on this Kickstarter.
USE OF PROCEEDS: The pie chart below reflects the Use of Proceeds from funds raised through the target amount of this Kickstarter only. If the target is exceeded, we will announce a stretch goal which proceeds might include additional interviews, and additional clearance of music and archival clips.
We came to Kickstarter because we wanted this film to be INDEPENDENT, TRUTHFUL, and to speak to a COMMUNITY.
INDEPENDENCE - Sammy has always beaten to his own drum. That is his part of his charm. We feel it is necessary to tell his story independently - like Sammy would tell it - without serving any master.
TRUTH - This film has been a passion project for 15 years. We have gotten to know Sammy so well. We have a vision for this film, and want to stay true to that vision.
COMMUNITY - We seek a community that loves music, the art of music, and music history. What better place for us than Kickstarter, where communities within the arts are fostered every day.
ABOUT THE REWARDS
CAN YOU MIX AND MATCH? Yes, you can. If there are Rewards you'd like in a certain combination or quantity that are not offered that way, no problem. Send a message by clicking the round photo of Diane at the top left of the page, and then "CONTACT ME". Glad to work it out.
DELIVERY DATES: The Rewards deliveries are approximate, and reflect a delivery date of a best-guess for the film's completion; we are likely to fulfill many of the Rewards a bit earlier.
MAKING YOUR "CHOICES": All "options" involved in any Reward tier (t-shirt size, for example) will be made AFTER the campaign; Kickstarter has a survey form for these selections, which works quite well.
HERE ARE DETAILS AND IMAGES of some of the Rewards:
NOTE CARD: Sammy has a Flat Trombone, and he likes to joke that it can play the note "B Very Flat". Inspired by this, talented Toronto artist/musician Dale Scaife has created a Note Card, wire on paper.
POSTER: Acclaimed artist ©Claire CHENE, who has exhibited works globally with the State Department's program of Art in Embassies, created this beautiful painting and gifted it to Sammy for This Is the Moment. With her permission we are creating a poster from her art.
BOOK #1 - THE GIFT OF MUSIC: We are offering a limited number of rare out-of-print hardback copies of the insightful autobiography of Sammy entitled The Gift of Music, signed by Sammy.
LIMITED EDITION COLLECTIBLE PRINT - SIGNED AND NUMBERED: This is a 12 x 16 fine art limited edition giclee print (top quality) of The Color of Jazz (painted by Sammy). It's museum-quality, frame-ready, on canvas, signed AND numbered by Sammy. A true collectible. Earliest orders get lowest numbers.
JEWELRY - A "LOVE NOTE" FROM SAMMY: Much thanks to Pepi Fine Jewelry who has specially designed these for Sammy. Can be worn as a pin or a necklace (chain not included). A unique piece that everyone will want to ask you about. (Choices made after the campaign.)
BOOK #2: THE COMPLETE ARRANGER; SPECIAL EDITION: This is super-rare. The Special Edition of The Complete Arranger, by Sammy is leather-bound, hard cover, with silver detailing, and is signed by Sammy. It is acclaimed as one of the greatest ever books on arranging music. It comes with two discs that contain examples of lessons from the book. Only 250 of these Special Edition versions were printed to begin with and will never be replicated again.
SAMMY-SIGNED MUSICAL SCORE: JUST FRIENDS Sammy says: "I have seen a lot of musical talent. Few vocalists can ever compare to SARAH VAUGHAN. She combined a four-octave range with characteristic leaps, swoops, and glides like nobody else. I arranged "Just Friends" while with the Count Basie Orchestra, and I enjoyed hearing them nail it. And Sarah Vaughan - she hit it way out of the park, like she always did." This is a signed musical score of "Just Friends" as arranged for Sarah.
SAMMY-SIGNED MUSICAL SCORE: FLY ME TO THE MOON - SOLD!!!on June 18, 2006 - Father's Day - . Todd Field, Tommy Vicari and Sammy go to Capitol Records where they record Sammy's arrangement of Fly Me to the Moon for the movie Little Children. Sammy recalls that Todd brought his son in honor of Father's Day. Several musicians did as well. This is the score from that session. One-of-a-kind.
A LIFETIME OF MUSIC - SOLD !! that's the name of this special piece of art - check it out, they are all there: Sinatra, Crosby, Vaughan, Basie, Quincy - what do they all have in common? Music and SAMMY, of course. This montage was created by acclaimed artist Pamela Homan, will be output on canvas, 24 x 36. Only two will exist - one in Sammy's residence and another, signed by Sammy, as a one-of-a-kind Reward.
AN ORIGINAL SAMMY - This is an ORIGINAL Sammy Nestico painting (acrylic on canvas; 12 x 16). Frame-ready, signed by Sammy. A true ONE-OF-A-KIND collectible. Shipped to arrive in pristine condition. Note: Sammy fulfilled his last unfulfilled childhood dream when he took up painting later in life. He is quite good, and this is perhaps his finest work.
If you've got questions, we've got answers! We are pleased to engage and respond. At the top of the page on the left there is a small round photo - click that, then click CONTACT ME to send a message.
FISCAL SPONSOR - FROM THE HEART PRODUCTIONS, INC.
THANKS & CREDITS
Thanks to Cheng Jin - for his fine work on our Kickstarter project video.
Thanks to Pepi Fine Jewelry - for their awesome creation(s) of "Sammy's Love Notes" jewelry Rewards.
Thanks to Claire CHENE - for permission to reproduce her original art for the poster.
Thanks to Rita House - a community workspace in L.A. - for being a wonderful host for Sammy's 94th birthday bash.
Thanks to Milla Cochran (photos by Milla Cochran) - for her selfless and fine work photographing Sammy's 94th birthday bash.
Thanks to Spencer Guerra - for his outstanding expertise with ProTools.
Thanks to artist Pamela Homan - for her creative montage of 'A Lifetime of Music'.
Risks and challenges
Making a full length feature film, documentary or otherwise, is a challenge for anyone, even for a major studio. It is a substantial endeavor, with many moving parts. Independent film producers have to especially be able to roll with the punches.
We have done our best to minimize risk partly because we are not starting from scratch. It's taken 15 years to get it to this point, and along the way, we've done what we had to do - raising and/or borrowing money, and financing some of it from limited personal funds, thus reducing what is needed for this campaign.
The funds from KS will now allow us to edit the film, and combined with other funding will allow us to cover costs including post-production elements that can really make a film special.
Our scope of work, time frames, and budgets are reasonable. It's not our first rodeo, so to speak.
Finally, this is a work borne of personal passion and love ... for Sammy ... the wonderful man, his story, the awesome music, and of course - the legacy.
We say with total confidence - when the Kickstarter campaign succeeds, a film will be made; and all rewards will be delivered fully and on a timely basis.
Thanks for helping us bring you a documentary on the Shadow Man ... the fabulously talented and influential Sammy Nestico.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (46 days)