Candy Dulfer

Right in My Soul

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Smooth jazz superwoman Candy Dulfer is the total package -- she's pretty, dresses well, plays a mean sax, and sings a bit. It's just too bad that when you get past the wrapping of Right in My Soul, the package comes up pretty empty. At a time when the Dutch smooth jazz star's idol and mentor saxophonist, David Sanborn, released one of the most organic, stripped-down, and funky albums of his career, Dulfer seems intent on "gussying-up" songs with what somebody must have perceived as "hip" electronic production, but which ultimately comes off as passé. Many jazz musicians have attempted such electro-jazz productions in the name of Miles Davis-styled boundary-pushing, only to end up with weak and boring albums that are neither avant-garde enough for jazz fans nor hip enough for electronic music fans -- Herbie Hancock's Future 2 Future and Tim Hagans' Animation-Imagination come to mind. Right in My Soul is something far more commercial, an R&B album of smooth jazz wrapped in pseudo-electronica beats and loops. Having added singing to her act a few albums back, Dulfer mainly focuses on vocal pop tunes, utilizing her saxophone for lite-funky asides. Some of the tracks are pleasant enough, featuring catchy, melodic hooks and passable improvisation, and even with the trite lyrical content this could have been, at worst, another average smooth jazz release from an artist who promises so much more -- Dulfer was discovered by Prince and grew up listening to Sonny Rollins, for cryin' out loud. The real problem is the leaden, synthetic production which despite -- or maybe because of -- utilizing elements of electronic music styles such as jungle, drum'n'bass, and hip-hop jazz, comes off as pedestrian and ineffectual. Had Dulfer produced Right in My Soul ten years ago, it would have been hailed as innovative. Now, it sounds at least five years out of date.

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