Cover Story

By Brian Soergel

Since 1991, when Candy Dulfer’s cool and funky sax sounds first hit the airwaves with her crossover hit “Lily Was Here,” American audiences have fallen hard for the Dutch saxophonist. Dulfer, who will be touring the United States this month, including a date at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Jazz Festival on May 17, wants her fans to know the feeling’s mutual.

“People in the U.S. are so much more vocal in what they like,” she said. “We get so many compliments when we play that it spoils us. When you do a solo people go, ‘yahoo! All right!’ They react to it. In Europe, people are a little more shy. I love communicating with American audiences; I have a very soft spot for them.”

It’s understandable if it seems like Dulfer’s been around forever. She recorded her debut CD, Saxuality, when she was just 19, even though it wasn’t released in the United States until three years later. Now, even as she turns 40 in September, Dulfer retains her sweeping blonde hair and model-like figure, both of which you can see in photos accompanying her new CD, Funked Up!, which is being released this month. The CD, her 10th studio recording, is a fusion of her trademark funk-jazz and slinky ballads. It’s also a compressed version of a two-CD product available in Europe that’s called Funked Up and Chilled Out.

Dulfer says the CD is a bit of a departure from 2007’s Candy Store, her debut for the Heads Up label that featured “L.A. Citylights,” a No. 1 smooth jazz song for seven weeks. She says Funked Up! has more melodic songs, and she’s proud of the chilled-out sections of the record. Although anchored by longtime musical associates Thomas Bank and Ulco Bed, it also expands Dulfer’s use of collaborators, including a three-piece horn section, Dutch rapper Pete Philly and rapper and trombonist Joseph Bowie of the long-running funk band Defunkt.

It’s not surprising that Dulfer’s music has always been on the eclectic side, with smooth jazz in the mix but also brimming with her specific ideas about funk, R&B, pop and hip-hop. She’s the daughter of Hans Dulfer, who remains a well-known Dutch tenor saxophonist. His respect for jazz while still pushing its boundaries has obviously rubbed off on his daughter.  
“When people learn my dad is a jazz musician, they think he’s just an older guy playing at a jazz club. But he has a band with a DJ, a rapper and double bass player. All young kids love him. He’s like Sonny Rollins in a way, he does his own stuff, but he always surrounds himself with musicians like Miles Davis did. He likes to bring something else to the table.” (Dulfer raised some eyebrows herself with a very funky version of Davis’ “So What” on her debut.)

Born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, for Dulfer was encouraged by her to play music. “He always had saxes around the house,” she said. “When I was 6, I finally asked him if I could try. From that moment on I was hooked, and he tried to give me some lessons in the beginning. But I was already a smart-ass in a way. I was already correcting him in the first lesson so he said, ‘OK, we’re not going to go that way. I’ll have somebody else teach you because this will give me gray hair.’”

** **The complete story can be found in the May issue of Smooth Jazz News. Subscribe today. Receive 11 editions of Smooth Jazz News per year, mailed monthly (except January), for $35.
For more information on Candy Dulfer, including her complete tour schedule, visit

May 17
Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Jazz Festival presented by Bank of the West
1107 Jamboree Road
Newport Beach, California,
(949) 729-6400

May 24
1337 India St.
San Diego, California
(619) 595-0300

Sept. 18
The WAVE's Summer Jazz Series at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
1107 Jamboree Road
Newport Beach, California,
(949) 729-6400

Oct. 10-17
Capital Jazz SuperCruise III
Aboard Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas
Departing the Port of Baltimore
(877) 887-2835