This discount-priced two-fer combines two albums by different artists, first the 1957 collection West Coast Wailers by trumpeter Conte Candoli and pianist Lou Levy, then 1959's Chris Connor Sings Ballads of the Sad Café. The obvious question is what these two albums have to do with each other, and the simple answer is nothing. The Candoli/Levy date is a West Coast bop session on which a quintet, filled out by Bill Holman (tenor sax), Leroy Vinnegar (bass), and Larance Marable (drums) wail on a collection of standards such as "Lover Come Back to Me" and "Lover Man" as well as some originals. Candoli and Levy are better known as side musicians; they led on very few albums, and this is their only one together. It is also their only recording for Atlantic Records, from which Collectables licensed it, and that begins to explain the pairing with the Connor album -- if it was going to be combined with anything, it would have to be a disc by some other performer. But why Connor? She had quite a few Atlantic albums, and Ballads of the Sad Café, a set of torch songs sung in her careful, considered voice, is a far cry from the feel of West Coast Wailers. But then, maybe that's the idea. Think of this as a club set with deliberately contrasting performers. Get all worked up on the bop playing of Candoli, Levy, and friends, then take a break and come back after another drink for the dispassionate Connor and her songs about unhappy love. At the low price, either one of these albums would be worth the money on its own, so why kick that you get two for the price of less than one?
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
feat: Lou Levy