Conte Candoli / Lou Levy

West Coast Wailers

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Trumpeter Conte Candoli and pianist Lou Levy had only occasional opportunities to work as leaders before this 1955 session they recorded together for Atlantic Records. Both made the most of the chance, fronting a quintet that also included tenor saxophonist Bill Holman, bassist Leroy Vinnegar, and drummer Lawrence Marable. The group got out of the gate quickly (following a contemplative piano intro, that is) on a quickstep bop reading of the Sigmund Romberg operetta tune "Lover Come Back to Me," which quickly established that a commonplace of jazz ensembles would hold -- no matter whose name is in large print on the cover, it's the group that's performing, and other people will get their chance to shine, too. While the rhythm section contented itself with supporting (though Marable often made his drums noticeable), Holman got more solo time than his sideman credit would indicate, at least on this track. Levy and Candoli got to make their statements up front, of course, but this was really a five-headed beast and, from the sound of forceful bop compositions like Candoli's "Pete's Alibi," it's one that should have been given more of a hearing than just one album.

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