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Pete Candoli, a longtime mainstay in the trumpet sections of American big bands and the recording and soundstage world of Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, died Jan. 11 in Studio City. He was 85.
Candoli had been featured with the big bands of Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller, Stan Kenton, Les Brown, Count Basie, Freddy Slack, Tex Beneke, Jerry Gray, Charlie Barnet and Woody Herman — in all, more than 27 of the top-name bands of that long-ago era.
It was with Herman’s First Herd that Candoli became known as Superman With a Horn. He dressed in that outfit and played screech notes. “They called me Superman in Woody’s band because I could open windows that nobody else could lift up,” he said. “So they thought I should wear a Superman suit as a part of the act.”
In a more sober vein, he played first trumpet for Igor Stravinsky’s complex “Ebony Concerto” written for the Herman orchestra.
As a first-call lead trumpeter in the studios, Candoli played for the orchestras of Alex Stordahl, Gordon Jenkins, Nelson Riddle, Frank Comstock, Don Costa, Michel LeGrand and Henry Mancini. He worked more than 5,000 record dates, composing, arranging and conducting for Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee, among others.
With his trumpet-playing brother Conte, who died in 2001, he co-led a combo that recorded and played frequently in West Coast and Chicago clubs. Pete and Conte agreed that they had never in life exchanged a harsh word.
Pete Candoli won awards from Down Beat, Metronome, Esquire and Look magazines, the latter naming 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.
Candoli was married to Betty Hutton and later to Edie Adams, with whom he often toured. He also did some acting work, both in Hollywood and in summer stock.
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