Pete Candoli

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Pete Candoli
Pete Candoli.jpg
Background information
Birth name Walter Joseph Candoli
Born (1923-06-28)June 28, 1923
Mishawaka, Indiana, U.S.
Died January 11, 2008(2008-01-11) (aged 84)
Studio City, California, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Instruments Trumpet
Years active 1936–2008
Associated acts Candoli Brothers

Pete Candoli (born Walter Joseph Candoli; June 28, 1923 – January 11, 2008) was an American swing and West Coast jazz trumpeter. He played with the big bands of Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, and many others, and worked extensively in the studios of the recording and television industries.


Candoli's professional career began at the age of 13, when he became a member of the American Federation of Musicians. He quickly found a spot as lead trumpeter, and by 1940 had become a part of Sonny Dunham's band. In 1941 he left the band to replace Ziggy Elman of the Tommy Dorsey band. During this time the band performed in three films, Las Vegas Nights (1941), Girl Crazy (1943) and Upbeat In Music (1943). In 1944 Candoli joined the Teddy Powell band. It was while with Teddy Powell that he brought his younger brother Conte into the big band major league.

After 1945, Candoli worked with several bands including notably that of Stan Kenton. Later, he drifted into the "West Coast Jazz" and studio scenes. Despite his range, he rarely played lead, reserved instead for feature roles. He became a favorite collaborator of many influential musicians and performers, including Peggy Lee, Henry Mancini, and Frank Sinatra, and was widely sought for studio work. In 1957, Pete and Conte reunited to form the Candoli Brothers band.[1] Candoli was also featured prominently on the DePatie-Freleng Enterprises cartoon series The Ant and the Aardvark, which utilized a jazz score for its theme and musical cues.[2] He made a guest appearance on a 1952 episode of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, during which Ozzie, Harriet, David, and Ricky all sang in a vocal quartet.


He was inducted into The International Jazz Hall of Fame in 1997. He was inducted into the "Big Band Hall of Fame" in 2003. He won the Down Beat, Metronome, Esquire "All American Band Trumpet Bronze Award".

Look magazine named him one of the seven all-time outstanding jazz trumpet players—the others being Louis Armstrong, Bix Biederbecke, Harry James, Bunny Berigan, Dizzy Gillespie and Bobby Hackett.

Musical style[edit]

Candoli's solo work is notable for his eloquent roles, supportive of the efforts of others. His adroit use of staccato was rare among modern jazz trumpeters. Despite his reputation for his high-note ability, he rarely used it unless explicitly called for by the conductor, the band leader, or the composer. More often, his solos began with low-to-mid-register staccato riffs which built into rolling cadenzas and ending, when appropriate, in high-note, bravura climaxes.

Strong evidence of his restraint can be found in his work on Peggy Lee's "Black Coffee", one of the first 33⅓ rpm long-play vocal albums. Pete appears on all of the original 10" tracks (recorded in 1953; expanded in 1956 to 12" with a different set of musicians). Muted but felicitously omnipresent on all the 10" tracks, he performs open-horned on the last chorus of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy", building from modest fills to a full-throated high-note climax that helps to make the song the centerpiece of the album and gives Lee arguable co-ownership of this song with Mary Martin.

Candoli performs sublimely on the two Mancini Peter Gunn albums, albeit as only one of similarly adroit group of musicians. He and his brother Conte were often seen playing in the background during scenes in "Mother's" nightclub. Most of Candoli's best solos are rather short. One of his best longer solos was wasted in the Peter Gunn medley on a forgettable concert album of Mancini's. It is an almost quintessential Pete Candoli performance in the staccato-to-climax mode described earlier. He is also the attributed soloist for the superb high-note work in the "Dance at the Gym" sequence in the movie version of West Side Story.

Personal life and death[edit]

Candoli married numerous times, typically to other musicians, including singer-actress Betty Hutton and singer Edie Adams. While married to Adams and musical director of her Las Vegas shows, Candoli appeared paired with her in an episode of Celebrity Bowling alongside Adrienne Barbeau and Jack Carter, the comedian. (This would be Candoli's only appearance on that show; Adams would appear quite a few more times with other celebrities). He had two daughters, Tara Clair from another marriage, and Carolyn with Betty Hutton. In 1980, the trumpeter Jack Sheldon said, "I get a lot of my work playing at Pete Candoli's weddings. He's married a lot of people. Hardly fair, because Pete was married no more than three times and had lived his last 18 years loyally with his partner Sheryl." His younger brother, Conte, achieved an arguably stronger critical reputation. They often worked together in anonymous recording gigs and in several joint albums on minor labels.

Both brothers were diagnosed with prostate cancer in later life. Pete Candoli died of complications from prostate cancer on January 11, 2008, aged 84. His brother, Conte, had died of the disease in 2001.[1]

Band memberships[edit]

Band Years
Sonny Dunham 1940–1941
Will Bradley 1941
Ray McKinley 1942
Benny Goodman 1942
Tommy Dorsey 1943–1944
Teddy Powell 1944
Woody Herman's First Herd 1944–1946
Tex Beneke 1947–1949
Jerry Gray 1950–1951
Les Brown 1952
Stan Kenton 1954–1956
Glen Gray 1956–1963
Candoli Brothers 1957–1962


With Elmer Bernstein

With Bob Cooper

With Fred Katz

With Stan Kenton

With Junior Mance

With Gerry Mulligan

With Shorty Rogers

With Mel Torme

Under the direction of D.L. Miller


  1. ^ a b Keepnews, Peter (23 January 2008). "Pete Candoli, Trumpeter and Studio Musician, Dies at 84". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Beck, Jerry (2006). Pink Panther: The Ultimate Guide to the Coolest Cat in Town. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 39. ISBN 0-7566-1033-8. 

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