Alto saxophonist Candy Dulfer was brought into the limelight by Prince, who introduced her to the world via his video for “Partyman.” Raised in a family heavily involved in the Dutch jazz scene, Dulfer is the daughter of Hans Dulfer, a respected jazz tenor saxophonist. Thanks to him, she listened to and studied the recordings of Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins, and Dexter Gordon. He also introduced her to the stage early in life. When she was 12, she began playing in a band with Rosa King, an American expatriate who lived in Holland. Her career began by playing with brass bands but soon she was fronting her own band, Funky Stuff, who were invited to backup Madonna for part of her European tour. She began leading the band at age 15. Her appearances with Prince led to session work with Eurythmics guitarist/producer Dave Stewart, who gave Dulfer a credit on “Lily Was Here,” which reached number six in the U.K. and number one on the Dutch radio charts in 1990. Recording sessions for her debut album were followed by more guest star dates with Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin, and Pink Floyd.
Her debut, Saxuality, released later in 1990 for RCA Records, was very successful in Europe and the U.S. While it was by no means a straight-ahead jazz album, her funky alto sax stylings caught on with fans of contemporary jazz at several recently launched “smooth jazz” radio stations around the U.S. Saxuality was nominated for a Grammy and certified gold for sales in excess of a half-million units worldwide. Her 1991 album Sax-a-Go-Go includes “Sunday Afternoon,” a song by Prince, and also teams her up with some of her musical mentors, the JB’s and the Tower of Power horns. Her other influences include Sonny Rollins and David Sanborn, and while Dulfer hasn’t carved the niche for herself that Sanborn has in the jazz world, she does have a great career ahead of her as she continues to synthesize classic R&B, blues, pop, and jazz in her own unique, creative ways. In 1999, she released What Does It Take with Girls’ Night Out and Right In My Soul following in 2001 and 2003 respectively.