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Noon Edition

Superman Soars Off: Pete Candoli, 1923-2008

Photograph of Pete Candoli used with permission of all rights reserved.

Pete Candoli, a big-band and West Coast trumpeter whose Superman-caped solos with the mid-1940s Woody Herman orchestra captured the exuberance of the swing era, has passed away at the age of 84. Though the Superman image proved indelible, as well as appropriate for the blasts of aural fire that Candoli frequently added to Herman concert performances and recordings (pianist and arranger Ralph Burns wrote, "We called Pete Candoli 'Superman' because of all those high notes he'd play way above the band-he could really make that trumpet wail"), the trumpeter's musical legacy and interests went beyond his early pyrotechnics. (An admirer of Stravinsky, he was assigned the trumpet solo in the composer's famous 1946 contribution to the Herman band, "Ebony Concerto.") You can hear him in artful, still-intense form with brother Conte on such 1950s albums as 2 For the Money and Jazz Horizons; he's also showcased on "Clarke Street" from Elmer Bernstein's score for The Man With the Golden Arm. And jazz critic Larry Kart recommends this late-period, 1980s Candoli Brothers performance with a Chicago rhythm section.

To hear some Man-of-Steel moments with the Herman Herd, check out "Superman With a Horn" on At Carnegie Hall, 1946 and at the end of "Apple Honey" on Blowin' Up a Storm (which also includes the "Ebony Concerto" recording). So long to Pete Candoli, who was a fellow native Hoosier (born, like Conte, in Mishawaka) may have gone on, but down here your solos are still soaring.

UPDATE: the Los Angeles Times has now published an obituary. There's now also a New York Times obituary as well.

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