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2018 Main Stage Artists
It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 26 years since Candy Dulfer rose to fame with her high-profile collaborations with Dave Stewart (the worldwide number 1 smash “Lily was here”) and of course the legendary Prince, whose tongue-in-cheek recommendation (“When I want sax, I call Candy”) in the “Partyman” video made the world sit up and notice the young, glamorous and talented sax player at his side. Their collaboration continued over the years with many studio sessions, TV show appearances, award show performances (including the Grammy Awards), and concert tours around the globe, including Candy joining Prince’s NPG band as a permanent member for his record-shattering Musicology tour & album.
Candy has been fortunate to work – both in the studio and on stage – with some of the biggest names in music, including Van Morrison, Maceo Parker, Sheila E., Mavis Staples, Lionel Richie, Beyoncé, Pink Floyd, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, and many others.
The Peet Project is a Hungarian pop-funk-jazz band comprising five twenty-something musicians. Their original music is a seductive and eclectic blend, reflecting influences encompassing Brian Culbertson, Candy Dulfer, George Duke, Earth Wind and Fire and the Rippingtons, among others.
The Peet Project was formed in 2009 and their career kicked off when they won the grand prize of Budapest-based 90.9 Jazzy Radio’s song contest later that year. The band’s debut album, Pink Spirit (2010, Beagle Beat Records), received rave reviews, not only in Hungary but also internationally, at JazzCorner and JazzTimes, whilst Smoothjazz.com’s Sandy Shore described the CD as “off-the-hook, irresistible grooves and melodies”.
2018 Concourse Stage Artists
The title of Jeff Ryan’s soulful, high energy breakthrough debut single “Up and Up” on Woodward Avenue Records perfectly captures his dynamic career trajectory these past few years. As of June 19, 2018, the single has soared all the way to #1 in Jazz on Billboard, Mediabase, the Smooth Jazz Network and the British Smooth Jazz Chart.
After years of playing in a variety of regional soul, funk and even big band ensembles, the San Francisco Bay Area-based saxophone sensation has captivated thousands with his robust, heartfelt vibe at numerous prominent Northern California jazz festivals – including a four year run at the Stockton Jazz Festival, where he has opened and performed along with urban jazz greats Marion Meadows, Eric Darius, Paul Taylor, Nick Colionne and Julian Vaughn.
Aside from infectious melodies, killer grooves and true emotional honesty in his expression, another key to the sonic and emotional impact of Embrace is Ryan’s powerful musical chemistry with his co-writer and producer, keyboardist Greg Manning. Manning, longtime keyboardist and musical director for Jonathan Butler who has scored three Top Ten hits as a solo artist, met Ryan when the two played at Sax on the River in Sacramento in 2016. Manning was blown away by the sax man’s performance and got together with him later to see how they would connect creatively in the studio. “Greg liked my sound and offered to help any way he could,” says Ryan. “We were in sync from the start, and the first track we wrote was ‘Up and Up.’ I had worked with other producers before, but felt Greg really understood what I was going for.”