Another duet – this time Maceo and Candy Dulfer from the great ‘Life on Planet Groove’ album. I’ve been working on this one for awhile. It was a monster to transcribe. Duets are hard enough because you can’t always tell who is playing which part. But this track also had Fred Wesley and Pee Wee Ellis, so at times there were four horns improvising at the same time!
I chose to focus on just Maceo and Candy’s parts. The song is really a feature for Candy. She’s the only one who takes a full solo. She and Maceo trade off on the melody, which is beautiful. Maceo fills in a little behind her, and she also fills in around the chorus parts when the other horns come in.
I’m including both parts separately as well as in ‘score’ form if you want to see how the parts line up together. They play off of each other beautifully, finishing each others’ ideas at times (which also makes it extra hard to figure out who’s playing what).
Both parts have tough sections to play. For Maceo, it’s more about the rhythms. Candy’s solo has some altissimo (up to high B), and some particularly fast runs.
On the video, I limited myself to one take for each part, so there are definitely parts I’d like another crack at. I stopped the video at the part where Maceo introduces Candy. She (and the others) solo more after that, and I included as much as I could in the written transcription, but it gets pretty chaotic to follow.
Overall, it’s a great solo by Candy, with beautiful playing by everyone all around. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
By request, here is the transcription of Candy Dulfer’s Alto solo from the 1990 Knebworth concert with Pink Floyd. Requests like this are a win-win: You get the content you’re looking for, and I discover new material that I wouldn’t have otherwise run across!
I was unfamiliar with this performance until one of my readers turned me on to it. I was unaware that Candy had worked with Pink Floyd, and this has clearly been out there for a while! The only source material I could find was a YouTube link. The quality isn’t great, but it’s good enough.
This one was really tough to transcribe and play. There aren’t any particularly hard technical passages – it’s all about the rhythms. I clearly don’t work in 6/8 enough! It’s also slow, which makes everything harder because more notes are getting squeezed in to a single beat, so you have to subdivide like crazy (in 6/8)! Halfway through, the time doubles up to a 12/8 feel. You can try to feel it in 4/4, just don’t lose that triplet.
Candy has lot of cool lines as usual, and plays back and forth between the flat five (sharp eleven) and the natural five, giving it a nice bluesy feel overall.
I’m so glad that I found this album, and this track in particular. It’s my favorite by far. It’s a very beautiful ballad. The track opens with a bass pattern that repeats throughout the track. Candy comes in with some beautiful improvisation. Although there are drums and keys in the background, it feels more to me like a duet between the bass and alto. The bass and alto do play the melody line together at the end of the track, but it’s fairly short. I could listen to this for hours – I wish they had stretched it out more!
I’m hard pressed to categorize this as anything other than jazz. In a way it reminds of me of old ‘fusion’ tracks from bands like Steps Ahead or the Yellowjackets. Candy’s tone is so beautiful on this track – bright but soulful. And she doesn’t overplay anything, it’s very tastefully done throughout and builds gently to a beautiful conclusion.
Ballads are always the most challenging to transcribe. The time feels so loose and the subdivisions are so precise. I had to pull out all of my tricks to accurately capture what was happening rhythmically. And then I went back to simplify things a bit to make it actually readable.
Even so, it’s a challenge to play – not because of the technique but because of the rhythms. This is one of those cases where it would be much easier to memorize the track than it would be to read it, but both are valuable skills to have.
Note – the track I have skips a half a beat six bars from the end. I don’t know why, it sounds like a bad edit. I tried to fill in the blanks as best I could and then play around the edit.
Continuing with the Xpectation album…There are a bunch of cool Candy Dulfer solos on this album. My biggest complaint is that they are too short!
The credits list her as playing ‘electric saxophone’ on a few tracks (not this one), which I interpret to mean EWI/WX. The funny thing is, have an EWI (and a WX11 before that), and was deeply into it for many years. I have WAY too much gear for it, along with all of the special patches, etc. that go along with it. I even spent time writing software for it, which led to my first job at Microsoft, but that’s a story for a different day…
But I’ve kind of gotten over the EWI. I rarely play it, and apart from some of Michael Brecker’s early work with it, listening to someone play it on a recording doesn’t do anything for me. That’s even more true on a Prince record because I don’t really know who is playing what. There are a ton of synth parts everywhere, so I can’t even tell that Candy’s playing it.
I’m too in love with the organic sound of the acoustic saxophone and its deep association with the player who created it. So I largely skipped over the ‘electronic saxophone’ tracks on this album and focused on the acoustic solos.
This tune is a latin-jazz feel, reminiscent of what you might hear on a Return to Forever album (albeit with more modern production values). The solo is only 16 bars, but I like it a lot. It’s easy to play and showcases Candy’s beautiful tone to great effect. I especially like the rhythmic play in bars 9-11.
This album took some digging to find, but I’m glad I did. It further demonstrates how diverse Prince’s catalog (and talent) was.
I have to say that this album is a little uneven, but it has moments of sheer brilliance as well. I could only describe it as ‘jazz’. Some of the tracks feel reminiscent of the later Miles Davis electric funk/jazz explorations. What a collaboration that would have been if Miles and Prince had gotten together.
This track is a pretty straight ahead medium-tempo hard swing feel. I really like Candy’s approach to the solo. She has some very nice lines including some incredibly clean double-time and altissimo runs that step the difficulty up a notch.
I really liked the melody so I included the short passage after the solo as well.
This is the last solo from the Prince One Night Alone – Live box set! I hope you’re not sick of it, because I’m not 🙂
Fittingly, this is the actual last track – a reprise of Everlasting Now. Candy and Maceo both solo’d on this track on disc 2.
This is an eight bar solo, but it’s packed with lots of funky goodness. Candy does a fast 3-1-6-5 run is bars 4-6 that is very well executed. I love the lick in bars 7-8. The staccato attack really makes it (even though I totally blew it), and I love how she alternates between the minor and major third of the chord to great effect.
I included the 10 bars after the solo where she switches to background parts. It feels like she’s making them up since they change every time, but I liked how well she got out of her solo and jumped right back into a supporting role. What a pro!
You may notice that I’m back to my Mark VI alto for this one. The new Conn 6m is in the shop getting some TLC. It played great before (on most notes), but definitely needed some tweaking. I still love my Mark VI, but man do I miss the Conn!
I’m almost done with this box set. One more Candy solo after this, and one more Najee solo.
Anna Stesia is a classic slow funk jam in (concert) C. Candy’s solo is short and sweet – only about 8 bars, with some fills after that, but she’s got some nice licks in there. Nothing too hard here, and just one high note to worry about. In bar 12, she’s trilling between E and G. I wasn’t sure if that was clear from the notation. The minor third trill is classic blues/funk/R&B/pop staple – it always works!
Listening back to my recording, my timing was pretty off in the first few bars. I should have done a few more takes!
Here are the two Candy Dulfer solos from ‘Everlasting Now’. I posted the Maceo solo last time.
These are both pretty tough to play. The tempo is pretty fast, and she’s pulling out all of the stops with false fingerings, altissimo, and a freak-out to end each solo.
I don’t go too deeply into figuring out which alternate A fingering she’s using for which note. You can probably figure it out, but I don’t think the return on investment is worth it. I just go by feel for what I would play to achieve the similar effect.
The same goes for the ‘freak out’ effects at the end. On the first solo I generally get the idea that she holds the high A, then when she switches to G she basically starts trilling with the fingers of her right hand while moving between G-F-E. The embouchure helps turn the whole thing into a slide. The end of the second solo is basically a slide up to high B and then a lip/finger fall from there.
Good luck with this one – I could definitely use some more time in the practice room on them!
I’m still working my way through Prince’s “One Night Alone – Live” box set. Back to Candy this time.
This track is a great example of why I love this box set so much – it’s so diverse. The track starts off as a pop ballad, but transitions to a straight ahead jazz waltz. The whole solo is in 3/4 (which I need to do more of BTW), and has some nice lines in it. It’s very different from what you normally hear from Prince (or Candy for that matter).
Coincidentally, this happens to be my first post with my new Alto! I know it seems odd to christen a Conn with a Candy Dulfer transcription instead of a Cannonball one, but that’s life. I think it works really well! I probably won’t use it exclusively, the horn needs a lot of work, but I also need a lot of work on it. Today was the first chance I’ve really had to play it for more than a few minutes.
I love how responsive the altissimo is – I just need to teach my brain where to find the notes. My body wants to go where they are on my Mark VI, which doesn’t work on the Conn.
More Prince. More Candy. Same CD box set as the previous two transcriptions.
This is such a beautiful song! Most people associate it with the 1990 Sinead O’Connor recording (and music video), but of course Prince wrote it. He originally recorded it with ‘The Family’ in 1985. It was hard to find that recording, and not worth the effort (for me), although some people swear that the original is the best recording.
Rumor has it that Prince did a studio recording of his own that was never released. Maybe it will see the light of day eventually? Until then, I’m only aware of his two live recordings – this one, and the more famous one that he recorded with NPG. I’ll try to work up that solo too, but my tenor high chops may not be up for it.
Candy really kills it on this solo. The third bar of the solo is pure genius the way she builds such connects such complex (and yet simple) ideas so fluidly – and nails it! I probably spent about an hour shedding that bar alone and still can’t play it as smoothly as she did.
And just try to play that high part at the end in one breath like she does. I like to think I get some pretty big air (I play a LOT of bari), and I couldn’t make it through both measures in one breath. But she pulls it off somehow!
The written transcription covers most of the song until the time stops. I’m only uploading the main solo to YouTube so I don’t run afoul of the copyright filters.
Slow songs are always the hardest to notate and read, so I really suggest listening closely to the recording as you’re trying to learn it. That’s always the best way anyway, but on ballads it’s almost impossible to do any other way.