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CD Review: Candy Dulfer 'Funked Up!'

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Friday, May 29, 2009

CANDY DULFER "Funked Up!"

Kindred Spirits: Maceo Parker, David Sanborn, Parliament-Funkadelic

Show: Tonight at the Birchmere. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. 703-549-7500. http://www.birchmere.com. Saturday at Rams Head Tavern. Shows start at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. 410-268-4545. http://www.ramsheadtavern.com.

The Dutch-born smooth-jazz saxophonist Candy Dulfer not only knows her audience, she also knows the value of audience-building. On "Funked Up!" features a tune composed for a New York radio station that helped further her career, until the outlet changed formats. Unfortunately, the "CD 101.9" tribute, complete with a DJ extolling Dulfer's virtues, is annoying, as silly as it is self-serving.

Dulfer displays her radio-friendly instincts in a more attractive light elsewhere on the album, especially when her playing reflects her alto sax influences and when the dance cuts point to her work with Prince (check out "Finger Poppin' "). Unlike many of her pop-jazz peers, Dulfer has the smarts and wherewithal to work with a lot of gifted musicians who keep her music from falling into a synthesized and rhythmically mechanical rut. The Special Request Horns add colorful, playful touches to the album's title cut and others, and drummer Kirk A. Johnson helps prevent programmed beats from taking their toll. As for the vocals supplied by Pete Philly, Joseph Bowie, Leona and others, they're not essential to the mix, but they help Dulfer project a sound and spirit more in tune with her concert performances.

-- Mike Joyce


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