Candy Dulfer, sax – Funked Up! – Candy Dulfer, alto sax & background vocals; others – Heads Ip

by | Jul 17, 2009 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Candy Dulfer – Funked Up! – Candy Dulfer, alto sax & background vocals; Chance Howard, bass; Kirk A. Johnson, drums; Thomas Bank, keyboards & programming; Frank Stukker, guitar; Jan Van Duikeren, trumpet; Louk Boudesteijn, trombone; Guido Nijs, tenor sax; Leona, Pete Philly, Joseph Bowie, guest vocals – Heads Up Records HUCD 3152 – CD, 48 minutes.**** [Distr. by Concord Records]:

Candy Dulfer is a Dutch alto sax player whose work mostly falls under the umbrellas of “contemporary” or “smooth” jazz. Her father was also a sax player, and he obviously taught her well; she’s an incredibly talented musician, displays some remarkable chops, and has been involved in bands since her early teens in the Netherlands. And when you get to the heart of many of the tunes – which despite their “smooth jazz” trappings, are just essentially well-orchestrated blowing sessions – you really get an appreciation for how remarkably talented she is. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s drop-dead gorgeous, looking much more comfortable on a Paris high fashion runway than on the concert stage – it’s really hard to picture that face and that body behind the sounds coming from that horn!

When Candy decided to name this album Funked Up! she wasn’t kidding! The record crosses and combines the genres of jazz, soul, funk, rap, techno, reggae and R&B – all underpinned by Candy’s super-smooth alto work and Thomas Bank’s excellent keyboards and programming. The album kicks off with “First In Line,” which despite its futuristic sounding vocoder intro is a straight-ahead blowing session with some outstanding rhythm work from bassist Chance Howard and drummer Kirk A. Johnson. Up next is “My Funk,” which features an astonishingly good improvisation by Dutch rapper Pete Philly, and while I’m not a died-in-the-wool fan of rap music – it really works to perfection in combination with the smooth jazz beats from Candy’s band. As Pete Philly says, “It’s not about hatin’, it’s about creatin’!” Third comes one of the best songs on the album, “Still I Love You,” a slower-paced ballad which according to the Head’s Up website has become one of the staples of Candy Dulfer’s recent live shows. Barely catching our breath, we’re then hammered with the techno beat of “Step Up,” a show-stopping rave featuring vocalist Leona, who later appears for the reggae-tinged “True & Tender.” There’s also a heavily Barry White-influenced R&B slow groove, “Bliss 2 This,” featuring a spoken narrative by rapper and trombonist Joseph Bowie, and while he’s not quite on par with Barry White at his best, it still manages to maintain a pretty enjoyable groove. While the music on this record is definitely all over the place stylistically, it never, ever gets in the way of Candy’s tasty saxisms.

I saw online that there’s a special luxury edition two-CD version of this disc called Funked Up & Chilled Out!, which includes a second disc with more laidback and ambient versions and additional material. The Heads Up website describes her on the second disc as more of an intimate seductress, in contrast to the high energy of her live concerts. As much as I enjoyed this release, I’m really keen to check out the extended edition. And her website had lots of really cool features, like the ability to download horn charts for some of her songs and tons of good advice to the aspiring musician. I have to give it up here to Candy; having been a music lover for decades, and even having worked in music retail for years, I saw her face everywhere for years and basically ignored her, thinking she was just another pretty face. Boy, was I wrong! This disc is addictively enjoyable and very highly recommended!

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.
— Tom Gibbs


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