When Conte Candoli died of cancer on December 14, 2001, at the age of 74, he didn't leave behind a huge catalog. The trumpeter only recorded sporadically as a leader, and he didn't provide nearly as many albums as his fans would have liked -- which is why the posthumous arrival of Candoli Live in the summer of 2002 was cause for celebration. This hard bop CD focuses on a May 26, 2000, gig in Germany; Candoli Live was recorded 19 months before his death, but it wasn't released until August 2002. Candoli Live finds the trumpeter leading a quartet that employs Bernhard Pichl on piano, Martin Zenker on bass, and Rick Hollander on drums. Not many surprises occur -- except for Candoli's own "I Dig Fig," all of the songs that the quartet embraces are warhorses that had been beaten to death over the years. Nonetheless, all of the performances are solid, and a 72-year-old Candoli plays with plenty of warmth and enthusiasm on often-recorded standards that include "Just Friends," "You and the Night and the Music," and "There Is No Greater Love." Candoli doesn't sound like someone who was only 19 months away from dying of cancer; his chops are holding up well, and his tone is still quite attractive whether his trumpet is open or muted. A muted trumpet works well for him on an eight-minute performance of the standard "Lover Man," which brings to mind Charlie "Bird" Parker's famous 1946 and 1951 versions, despite the fact that Candoli isn't using a saxophonist. And if the listener isn't thinking of Bird before the end of "Lover Man," he/she can't help but think of him when Candoli quotes "Parker's Mood." Those who complain that there aren't nearly enough Candoli CDs on the market will welcome this German release with open arms.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson