Tag Archives: prince

MTH-V: Candy Dulfer & Chance Howard

I mentioned a few posts back that Candy Dulfer may be coming. As promised, here she is. The Dutch queen of smooth jazz saxophone may not be the first one to come to mind for regular readers of this blog, but she has her place. If you don’t recognize her solo work, you may at least recognize her from her work with many big pop acts including a long-running association with Prince and even sharing the stage with Pink Floyd.

Overall, I’m no fan of smooth jazz. However, I do like some folks that walk that line, Marcus Miller being the biggest for me personally. Marcus was one of my first posts in this video series, and he’s received some of the most appearances and mentions (see him in action here, here, and here). For me, I love Marcus as a sideman or a live bandleader (i.e., when he’s playing his bass with a killing band), both his playing and his ideas. The studio is another story if he’s calling the shots. Many of his albums and/or producing credits are so overproduced and overly overdubbed – he plays most instruments himself in the studio – that I have a hard time getting into it. That, and his solo albums trot too far into the smooth jazz territory. Just a tad too much cheese and fluff at times. And even when it’s not, it still lacks something organic. I mean, I appreciate Miles Davis’s Tutu, which Miller produced, but I don’t often listen to it for fun. This is following a thought that deserves its own post, but hopefully you get the idea…

Back to Candy. For me, she’s sort of the bizarro Marcus Miller – overall her playing’s not my thing but sometimes I’m really into it. Though, that’s mostly because of the style. Perhaps my biggest gripe with smooth jazz is that much of it seems to be trying to be something it’s not: vocal music. When you have a good vocalist, the horns should just lay back and let the pop hooks come through. It’s why “Just the Two of Us” is far and away the best part of Grover Washington, Jr.’s Winelight. (Though, I do like the rest of the album.) Similarly, the thing I’ve most liked by Candy’s solo band features voice. This particular voice is that of fellow Prince alumnus Chance Howard. (Prince experts may also recognize drummer Kirk Johnson, another former member.) And what a voice it is. As my wife says, “it’s pure butter.” How he’s not better known is lost on me. Regardless, he delivers a commanding rendition of Bobby Womack‘s “Daylight” in this live performance from Germany. This may be Candy’s band but it’s Chance’s stage. Candy lets the horn fit in well without butting her way in. She lets the song itself shine without trying to make it a sax feature. Other than the shoe-horned hip-hop breakdown towards the end, this is pretty great. I’ll admit that when I got my new stereo, this is one of the first things I listened to to test the surround sound.

To tie Candy in with another post, here’s a clip of Lydia Kaboesj sitting in with her band in Amsterdam for another rendition of “Just Friends (Sunny)”: