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Conte Candoli: Portrait of a Count

Candoli is midway through his sixth decade of inventive trumpet playing despite a continuing dental ordeal that might have brought his career to a halt. Damage to front teeth constitutes a brass artist’s nightmare. Candoli has accommodated to his changed embouchure by making fewer trips into the upper register, but his characteristic tone is mostly intact.

Long admired for his advanced harmonic sensibility, he still taps a deep reserve of rich ideas. His solo on the flowing chord changes of “Namely You” is full of them. Making fetching use of a tight Harmon mute, Candoli finds fresh things to play on “Green Dolphin Street,” a piece that was all but worn out during its omnipresence in the ’60s and ’70s. Much of his most effective soloing of the date is into the mute. When he uses it, he relies less on clusters of triplets that are distracting on some of his open-horn solos. Inevitably, he refers to Miles Davis in a muted up-tempo performance of “If I Were a Bell,” then launches into a paraphrase of “Straight No Chaser,” followed by a passage of startling freedom. Such freshness is not unusual in this collection.

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