Sincerely, Conte – Conte Candoli quartet – Bethlehem

Sincerely, Conte – Conte Candoli quartet – Bethlehem mono BCP 1016, 23:24 [Distr. By Naxos] ****:

(Conte Candoli – trumpet; Stan Levey – drums; Max Bennett – bass; Claude Williamson – piano)

Sincerely, Conte was originally recorded by Bethlehem Records in November 1954 as a 10-inch LP, but was also issued in a couple of other iterations namely Conte Candoli-Stan Levey Quartet  and Westcoasting with Conte Candoli & Stan Levey. In any event, regardless of its title, and despite its brevity, it is an interesting example of West Coast cool by a terrific quartet.

Although Conte Candoli was born in Indiana, he became associated with the West Coast music scene in 1954 after stints in the big bands of Woody Herman, Chubby Jackson and Stan Kenton among others. Playing with these organizations which had strong trumpet sections, he established his trumpet voice which was clean, bright, and forceful. At the time of this initial Candoli release, the West Coast and Los Angeles in particular, was chock-a-block with great jazz musicians. So there was plenty of choice for Candoli and two of the best were Bud Powell-influenced pianist Claude Williamson and drummer Stan Levey.

Although each track was not lengthy, a lot of music was packed into them starting with “Fine & Dandy” which is a burner. A snappy run-though of the melody by Candoli’s trumpet, is then followed by some dazzling triplets and arpeggios in a short solo. Williamson picks up the thread with a couple of stellar runs, followed by drum breaks by Levey and then an out chorus. On “Night Flight” Candoli gives us a taste of his Harmon-mute playing to open the piece, then segues into a strong open horn solo followed by a take-out on muted trumpet. To show his sensitive side, Candoli uses the ballad “ I Can’t Get Started “ as the vehicle, as he runs up and down the trumpet’s range. Later on he gives “ Everything Happens To Me”  a similar interpretation with equal effect, and Williamson provides strong comping in support of his efforts.

Although this was not in any way a working quartet, they proved to be a creative and highly versatile band. Take for example “On The Alamo,” as they found a swinging groove propelled by Levey’s ride cymbal, and choice single-note-runs from Williamson,with some upper register notes from Candoli.  “Tune For Tex” has a more bouncy line that gives Williamson some stellar moments, that opens up to Candoli’s brash articulation. The session closes with a Latinesque “I’ll Remember April” which is taken at top speed and is replete with blistering and exacting choruses of innovation.

A wonderful initial recording from a trumpeter of both facility and rigor.

TrackList: Fine & Dandy; Night Flight; I Can’t Get Started With You; On The Alamo; Tune For Tex; They Can’t Take That Away From Me; Everything Happens To Me; I’ll Remember April

—Pierre Giroux


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