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Pete Candoli (and Other Losses...)

Jack Bowers By

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Through the years there have been a number of "family acts" in jazz, but not many in which the parent/offspring or siblings played the same instrument. An exception is the Candoli brothers, Pete and Conte, who not only played trumpet but did so with such creativity and talent that they are widely considered to be among the best who ever picked up a horn. There were some small differences. Conte, younger than Pete by four years, was best known as a jazz trumpeter who could play lead, Pete as a lead trumpeter who could play jazz.

The Candoli brothers were born and spent their childhood in Mishawaka, Indiana, near South Bend. Conte received his earliest trumpet lessons from Pete, who was largely self-taught, and the brothers first played side-by-side as professionals on Woody Herman's First Herd in the summer of 1945, shortly before Conte's eighteenth birthday. It was there that Pete earned the nickname "Superman" for his stamina and high-note prowess (even wearing a cape as part of the act). Pete, of course, had a different take: "They called me Superman," he said, "because I could open windows that nobody else could lift up..."


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