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Photo of Sammy Nestico
Sammy Nestico is one of the most successful and recognizable figures in the jazz music world today. A leading arranger and composer for film, television and radio for over 50 years, his musical legacy is an integral part of our national consciousness. After working as a staff arranger for ABC radio station and WCAE in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Nestico joined The United States Air Force Band in 1950. Subsequently, in 1954, he was named leader of the Airmen of Note. Following his military career, which included a position as director of the White House Orchestra, he worked for fourteen years as composer/arranger for the Count Basie Orchestra. In this position, he directed ten recordings-four of them were Grammy Award-winning productions. During the same period he worked as an arranger and orchestrator for Capitol Records, co-writing the equivalent of 63 albums. Over the past four decades, Nestico has written for hundreds of major artists of stage and screen, including Julie Andrews, George Burns, Gene Kelly and Goldi Hawn. His television credits include the Grammy Awards, the Tonight Show and specials for Perry Como, Toni Tennille, Liza Minelli and Natalie Cole. Nestico has also composed numerous commercials, including spots for Anheuser Busch, Zenith, Ford Motor Company and Mattel Toys.
Sammy Nestico Award For a New Jazz Composition

Named after a former director of the Airmen of Note and famed jazz arranger, composer and orchestrator Sammy Nestico, this competition is a call for unpublished works for jazz ensemble. Applicants must be citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States age 35 or younger. Individuals who are currently involved in a military music program or who have been commissioned to write a composition for an Air Force Band are not eligible to compete. When a composition is selected, the Airmen of Note will produce a professional quality recording for the winner and perform the composition during the Jazz Heritage Series. Additionally, the winner will be flown to Washington, D.C., for the performance and will have an opportunity to receive a $2,000 follow-on commission for a second work.


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Photo of Sammy Nestico Award Winner Scott Ninmer2011 Winner
Scott Ninmer
Taylorville, IL


Composer Scott Ninmer studies jazz composition at the Manhattan School of Music with Jim McNeely and is a member of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. He is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying jazz trombone and composition with Jim Pugh. Ninmer was selected the winner of the Jazz Education Network Student Composition, Downbeat Magazine's Student Music Awards, and the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Awards.








Previous Winners
2010 Jeremy Levy
Hannibal, Mo.
2005 David Cutler
Pittsburgh, Pa.
2000 Jeff Antoniuk
Annapolis, Md.
2009 Sara Jacovino
Middlebury, Conn.
2004 Stephen Smith
Denton, Texas
1998 Joey Sellers
Brooklyn, N.Y.
2008 Michael Dease
Augusta, Ga.
2003 Aaron Lington
Denton, Texas
1997 Lyle Durland
Provo, Utah
2007 Chris Schmitz
Anhorage, Alaska
2002 Earl MacDonald
Mansfield Center, Conn.
1996 William Straub
Syracuse, N.Y.
2006 Carl Murr
Dallas, Texas
2001 Curtis Stephen
Carrollton, Texas
1995 Charles Bayne
Dallas, Texas


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