Review: Candy Dulfer – Candy Store

If you’re looking for a contemporary jazz recording that’s not quite a formulaic smooth jazz release and covers a number of styles, your search is over. Candy Dulfer’s latest, Candy Store, is an audio testament to the freedom she felt making it. “I was free from any recording contract,” Candy reports, “so there was no pressure at all in terms of style or time. Hence the two years working on it and the total mish mash of styles.”

Candy delivers the strong funk she does so well on the opening track “Candy” then slips into a comfortable groove on the memorable, mid-tempo composition “L.A. Citylights.” It’s right back to the dance floor with the one-two punch of the jamming “Music=Love” and the spicy “La Cabana.” After a breather with the chill-down track “11:58,” it’s funk time again. Candy pulls up the mic to sing her original song “Summertime,” a true tribute to the season. The title of the next track says it all: “Soulsax,” though I have to add that it’s got a really good groove. “Smokin’ Gun” has an obvious reggae influence. ” “If I Ruled the World” sounds like something from the soundtrack of the last hip film you saw. All of the music on Candy Store are new compositions. “For me, it was important that I’d do only originals and that they had to show different aspects of my life, since I’m the kind of person that likes all kinds of different things at the same time,” says Candy.”

Candy Store is a good recording, full of flavor, from the first track to the last. It’s definitely deserving of more exposure. Check out Candy’s thoughts on each track at her fresh and informative site.

Candy’s playing has my respect. Here’s a video of the Marcus Miller Band playing “Rehab” at the 2007 North Sea Jazz Festival. It’s a smokin’ performance and features solos by Roy Hargrove, Gregoire Maret, Patches Stewart, and Candy Dulfer. Candy’s solo is in the pocket. The fun she’s obviously having here, in addition to the sound she can put in that alto, makes me wish I could catch her live.

Buy the CD from Amazon.com!

Buy the download from iTunes!

Review: Supercharged from Down to the Bone

Supercharged by Down to the BoneDown to the Bone has the perfect summer soundtrack with their fun and funky new release Supercharged. True to the title, this release is a pumped-up, constant jam that won’t let your body remain idle. It needs a warning label – “Product contains powerful horns (props to Shilts and the D.C. Horns), percolating bass, mean guitar by Tony Remy, and relentless energy – may leave you exhausted after play!”

Supercharged sounds like it should be listened to in the sunshine, preferably driving down the highway with the top down. It conjures up summer imagery, especially on two of my favorite tracks. “Parkside Shuffle” is a nice, sweet tune, reminiscent of a walk in the park, that builds into an unbelievably infectious melody around the two-minute mark. Hil St. Soul adds a strong vocal effort to the uplifting “Smile to Shine.” A flavorful bass line and welcome trumpet and trombone solos at the end only make a great song better.

Maybe I’m not looking hard enough, but it’s rare to hear this kind of music released and receiving mass distribution in the States. Buy this release when it comes out on June 18. Not only will you get music you’ll enjoy all season/year long but maybe enough copies will sell to justify more funky soulful jazz recordings.

In Praise of Liquid Soul

I saw Liquid Soul in concert at the Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival three years ago. I had never heard of the band before. My wife and I were sitting on the lawn enjoying the day of music when the group hit the stage around 6 p.m. I wasn’t sitting after about 30 seconds. The sheer power of the sound this funk ensemble put forth was unbelievable. Brassy horns, deep bass, jazz guitar, DJ – this was a tight group and knew how to lay out a groove and work the crowd. Two minutes into the show, I gave my wife some money and asked her to buy every Liquid Soul thing she could find. It remains one of the top concerts that I have ever seen.

Liquid Soul - EvolutionThough there’s nothing like seeing them live, the band’s new CD, Evolution doesn’t hold anything back. You’ll hear it from the start, with the punchy “Action Jackson”. You’ll be dancing to “I Was Meant To Be Rich.” You’ll be jumping around the room when James “Squeeze” Taylor hands off his rap to the horns on “Soul.” The band keeps the music moving, rarely slowing down (it sounds like an attempt at a slower tempo was made on “Bossa Interlude” but that’s scratched at under a minute). The only problem is that I can’t listen to the CD at work since I end up spinning around in my chair and unable to focus on my projects.

Do yourself a favor and see Liquid Soul live. They’ll be in Iowa, Colorado, Utah, and their home state of Illinois (the band hails from Chicago) the rest of this month and the tour continues through next month.

News Bits: Marcus Miller, Stanley Jordan, Kirk Whalum

Marcus Miller is releasing what he calls an “Official Bootleg CD”. The Ozell Tapes features performances from Marcus’ 2002 tour with no remixing or editing. Having seen a show on the tour, I can guarantee you that finding this CD will be worth your while. It should already be out in Japan and will be in Europe and available for ordering online later this week. For more information and updates, check out Edi Weitz’s MarcusMiller.com site, where Marcus contributes frequently. . . Stanley Jordan‘s 1985 release, Magic Touch, was certified gold on August 27, meaning that it has sold over 500,000 copies. . . The jazz/gospel fusion that Kirk Whalum displayed on his underappreciated Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter One will be back for a second volume. The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter Two will be in stores on October 29. George Duke and Paul Jackson, Jr. return and are joined by Jonathan Butler. The CD was recorded live and KirkWhalum.com reports that a DVD/VHS version should be coming soon.

What Is XMarsX?

I was wondering this when I saw it popping up on music stores’ upcoming releases jazz list. I was glad I looked into it. Turns out this is one of the side projects of Liquid Soul’s Mars Williams. It’s a free jazz project that sounds like something fans of modern jazz will want to try out.
Continue reading “What Is XMarsX?”