Contemporary Jazz

Candy And Wine

18 MAY 09 JONATHAN WIDRAN

If you're listening to Funked Up!, Dutch sax superstar Candy Dulfer's sizzling expansion of the tasty, melodic, progressive and heavy grooving Candy Store she opened on Heads Up in 2007, and you find jarring the sudden shift from danceable to serious mellow, blame the wine.

Dulfer and her explosive band -- keyboardist Thomas Bank, bassist Chance Howard and drummer Kirk Johnson -- were jamming right along, making the funkiest recording of their lives when an interesting and ultimately irresistible side gig came up. They were asked by Dutch filmmaker Fred van Dijk to record the soundtrack for Kissed By A Grape, a documentary exploring the world of organic winemaking. Musically, that's a world away from Dulfer's wild touring experiences and sessions for Prince, but she took the gig and created what are decidedly ambient vibes for the film.

Digging into this atmospheric experience after most of the jamming tracks on her new album were done helped create a coolly unexpected balance between the sizzling and the laid back. Calling it "almost like a best of album representing my funky and softer sides," Dulfer complements the energy of the slamming pieces and reggae-electronica with romantic gems and pure liquid soul.

Fans who lament the downsizing of the once thriving smooth jazz format will appreciate the sentiment behind the nostalgic "CD 101.9," a tasty tribute to the former New York radio station that gave Dulfer and her band a lot of airplay when they first visited the U.S. in the early-'90s.