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Let's not get confused. Candy Dulfer's music isn't jazz so much as it is soul without lyrics. And that's just fine.
The Holland-born saxophonist was raised in a musical family. Her father, Hans Dulfer, founded the Bimhaus, a jazz club that was subsidized by the government as a means of promoting the arts. Candy Dulfer broke away from the traditional after seeing her father outcast by puritanical jazz thinking. Her career has been marked by playing pop, R&B and funk, and incorporating jazz into those styles. Funked Up! is a showcase of Dulfer's passion for fun.
"First in Line" is a party song. Bassist Chance Howard and drummer Kirk Johnson help lay down the groove. The three-piece horn section of Jan van Duikeren, Guido Nijs and Louk Boudesteijn give it that brassy feeling, but mostly it's about Dulfer's alto and the nightclub, jam-session atmosphere of the song.
"CD 101.9" begins with a sound byte from deejay Russ Davis. The song is a tribute to the New York radio station that dropped its smooth jazz format in 2008. The station was the first to give Dulfer's band significant airplay around the time of her first visit to the United States in 1991. Keyboardist Thomas Bank carries the rhythm on this cheerful tune, with Howard adding the background voice as Dulfer and van Duikeren share in the horn synth arrangements. Excerpts from Davis' commentary about a live gig that Dulfer and her band performed are strategically slipped into the track, setting up Dulfer's middle solo.
The horn trio, Bank, bassist Manuel Hugas and guitarist Ulco Bed support Dulfer on "Finger Poppin.'" This track, like several, is a throwback to the instrumental soul and funk jams of the 1960s and '70s by bands like Brass Construction. Bank, Hugas and Bed make good use of their time, throwing in some hard-charging sounds. Although Dulfer leads, she's almost forgotten as it's the rest of the band that shines on this title. She does get her moments, but the rhythm section and the horns are on equal ground.
"Be Cool" has many of the same elements, except this time Dulfer is more of a force. At the front end, the horn section leads, setting up a trumpet solo by van Duikeren. After a second wave of horns, Dulfer solos. The alto is put through a series of high-speed rolls. When the band comes back in, van Duikeren and Dulfer engage in a brief dialogue wherein each instrument grinds.
In the making of Funked Up!, Dulfer set out to recreate the energy and flow of her live performances. With an abundance of soulful, funky and energetic selections, offset by a few ballads and easygoing pieces, she appears to have succeeded.
Track Listing: First in Line; My Funk; Still I Love You; Step Up; Don't Go; CD 101.9; Bliss 2 This; Finger Poppin'; Be Cool; On & On; True & Tender; Roppongi Panic.
Personnel: Chance Howard: bass (1, 3, 7, 10), keyboards and percussion programming (3), vocals (6, 7); Kirk A. Johnson: drums (1, 3, 7, 10), shaker (3); Candy Dulfer: alto saxophone; vocals (1), horns (2, 6); Moon Baker: vocals (1); Jan Van Duikeren: trumpet (1, 8, 9, 11), horns (2, 6); Louk Boudesteijn: trombone (1, 8, 9, 11); Guido Nijs: tenor sax (1, 8 , 9, 11); Thomas Bank: keyboards and programming; Pete Philly: rap and vocals (2); Ulco Bed: guitar (2, 7-10); Frank Stukker: guitar (3, 12); Leona: vocals (4, 11); Russ Davis: radio voice (6); Joseph Bowie: rap (7), "ice brass" section (7); Manuel Hugas: bass (8, 9, 11).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.