Candy Dulfer has been on the fast track since she first picked up the saxophone in 1975 at the tender age of six. Thirty years later, the ride has yet to slow down.
Born in Holland in 1969, Dulfer was raised in a musical family. Her father, Hans Dulfer, was a well-known Dutch saxophonist who founded the Bimhaus, the famous jazz club that was originally subsidized by the government as a means to promote the arts. Ironically, Hans was ousted from the original organization for embracing styles outside the strict confines of traditional jazz. Seeing her father ostracized from the very same jazz community that he’d helped establish had a profound effect on young Candy.
"Back then, even as a young girl, I felt betrayed by the Dutch jazz scene,” she recalls. "I decided that I was going to do things my own way. I decided I would play R&B, pop, and whatever else moved me, and then decide later on where all the jazz that I had heard as a child would fit into what I was doing. I really never played straightahead gigs. I thought it was very purist and confining.”
By 14, she had assembled her own band, Funky Stuff (the name alone should offer some clue to her rebellion against the stifling parameters of traditional jazz). The musical unit was still intact five years later when she recorded Saxuality, her solo debut album, in 1988. Released in 1990, Saxuality sold more than a million copies worldwide and scored a GRAMMY nomination. The massive success of the album prompted world touring for Dulfer and Funky Stuff beginning in the early ‘90s. More than 15 years and ten solo albums later – not to mention numerous guest appearances on albums by other artists – the globe-trotting itinerary has yet to stop.
Along the way, Dulfer has made scores of friends in high places. She appeared in Prince’s "Partyman” video in 1990, and played with him on the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack released that same year. She has toured with him frequently since the late ‘90s, most recently on his Musicology tour in 2004. She also played on his 2006 release, 3121.
Other collaborative partners over the years have included Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), Maceo Parker, Van Morrison, David Sanborn, Beyonce, Pink Floyd, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Blondie, Joey DeFrancesco and many others. Clearly, this is an artist who will not be hampered by the typical constraints of one genre or style over another.
"I think one of the reasons why my career has gone so well, and continues to go well after all these years,” says Dulfer, "is because I make this really strange mix of all the music I grew up with, even if it doesn’t always make sense. I’m not afraid to put jazz and R&B and house music into what I’m doing. For some people, this sounds crazy, but most people just like it.”
Dulfer brought this melting-pot approach to Candy Store, her 2007 debut on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group. The album is a churning confection of R&B, pop, funk, hip-hop, Latin and more – an all-inclusive formula that’s consistent with her career-long philosophy of weaving a diversity of styles to craft high-energy, positive music.
"Aside from my father, I was one of the first musicians in Holland to really just go for it and say, ‘Whatever,’” says Dulfer. "I’ll never play the American forms of music as well as the Americans, because they invented it. But what I can do is take it and combine it with what I know from my own culture and my own background, and then make the music that I think would be the most fun.”