Come Together: Saxophonist Candy Dulfer recalls her time with Prince and the making of her new album

Come Together: Saxophonist Candy Dulfer recalls her time with Prince and the making of her new album

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Grammy-nominated Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer admits she suffers from low self-esteem, but the former member of Prince’s New Power Generation just looks at her resume to remedy that.

“If Prince wasn’t there, I don’t know if I would play the saxophone,” says Dulfer, who joined Prince’s NPG in 2004 as a permanent member for his Musicology tour and album.

“Working with Prince was such an inspiration, such a stamp of approval,” she says. “Whenever I get insecure about my playing or me being a musician, I think that Prince wanted me. Prince wanted me back and he wants me in his band and to record with him. It was my go-to place when I was telling myself I was going to stop. I’ll never be Coltrane, but I found my sense of purpose and a lot of that comes with him.”

Although Dulfer calls touring her purpose, she stepped into the studio and recorded the album Together, which was released earlier this year.

“It’s the first time that I don’t have any instrumental songs on the album,” Dulfer says via telephone from the Netherlands. “It’s all saxophone and vocals. I’m Europe-based and here it’s a necessity to have vocals. In the United States, I could do an album without vocals, but I have to cater to different continents.”

Together features 15 songs, all of which Dulfer deemed necessary.

“It has a lot of tracks on it,” she says. “I couldn’t say goodbye to one, so I put them all on there. I don’t like being in the studio for long periods of time. It’s not where my heart is. I’d rather be done in a short time.

“This time I made sure I was in and out in a couple days because I had to go out again anyway. You feel it with the album. It’s not an album that’s going to be dated anytime soon. It’s not trendy. They’re very organic songs. I’m really attached to ‘Out of Time,’ which we originally wrote for Prince, and the title track. I’m glad they turned out the way they turned out.”

Dulfer sang on a fair share of the songs. Other times, she was joined by the likes of Chance Howard, Ivan Peroti and Rico Greene.

“I’m not opposed to singing,” says Dulfer, who returns to the Valley to play two shows at the Musical Instrument Museum on Sunday, June 11. “My voice is OK and I like to sing. I sing what I feel and it’s nice to have a voice in there.

“Our live shows are a big mix of instrumental and vocals. I don’t think anyone will mind.”

To this day, she still feels inspired by Prince, with whom she worked on Lovesexy, Graffiti Bridge and One Nite Alone… before joining NPG full time.

“I was one of his biggest fans,” she says. “I would play hard to get with him. That way he would keep me longer. He really liked that. He thought I was crazy, but he liked that I was independent. We would butt heads. We were totally opposite characters. I totally respect him.

“I tried to pick his brain so many times about everything. I’m very lucky. I know that. For me, the glitter and glamour was so uninteresting. I’ve been just so lucky to be present where I could sit next to him, see how he played guitar and what he did with his vocals.”

Her goal, however, was to make him happy.

“If he was really, truly happy, that was such a great feeling,” she says. “It was amazing that I could make a genius happy with my sound, by playing a good solo for him. That was the ultimate compliment.

“I see him as the Mozart or Beethoven of our time. It’s sad that he’s not here.”

Candy Dulfer, Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, 480-478-6000, themim.org, 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday, June 11, $30-$50.