Candy Dulfer was just twenty years old when she scored her first international hit, "Lily Was Here, a duet with Eurhythmics guitarist Dave Stewart. At that time, she was already an experienced saxophonist, having started at the age of six, heavily influenced by her father, jazz saxophonist Hans Dulfer. Though "Lily Was Here performed well on the pop charts, Dulfer has been more of a soul/funk artist, evidenced by Candy Store.
Dutch-born Dulfer led her first band, Funky Stuff, at the age of fourteen. Her career has included performances with Stewart, Prince, Pink Floyd, Maceo Parker, Aretha Franklin, Beyonce and David Sanborn, among others.
Candy Store features all-original songs, penned by Dulfer and her sidemen, Thomas Bank, Chance Howard and Ulco Bed. "Candy is a funky tribute to the band leader. Howard, who wrote the track, raps while Bed delivers a soulful rhythm guitar. Dulfer plays alto sax in a style similar to that of Sanborn. The music is even of the soul-jazz style that was Sanborn's signature for many years.
Bassist Howard opens "Music = Love with a Bootsy Collins-like vocal intro. Howard and Dulfer perform vocals on this song, which includes the horns of Jan van Duikeren and Louk Boudesteijn. John Blackwell joins the ensemble on drums, one of only three tracks with an acoustic drum kitthe album's one glaring weakness.
Heavy reliance on programming is usually the death knell for any kind of jazz album, but excellent songwriting and strong performances by Dulfer and others easily overcome the artificial sounds of the programs. A good example of this is "La Cabana, a Latin piece that begs for drums, cymbals, congas and perhaps timbales. Yet the horns, Bank's keys and Howard's bass still manage to make this a delightful tune.
Dulfer shows off her singing chops on "Summertime, a playful dance track. She also adds tenor and baritone to her sax play. The background horns are fabulous. Howard's bass helps set the tone for "Smokin' Gun, a reggae-like song. Bank's programming sounds more like the real thing on this track than any other, including crisp cymbal slides.
Candy Store is not for hardcore jazz fans who want their music straight, with no outside influences. However, Dulfer is a diverse musician whose music includes elements of pop, soul and funk. If you approach this album without any preconceptions of what jazz ought to be, you may find plenty to enjoy here.
Candy; L.A. City Lights; Music=Love; La Cabana; 11:58; Summertime; Soulsax; Smokin' Gun; Back to Juan; If I Ruled the World; Everytime; Finsbury Park Cafe 67 (2007 version).