And She Plays Pretty Well, Too

updated 11/04/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/04/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

WHEN I WANT SAX," SINGS PRINCE, "I call Candy." And so does Van Morrison. And Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics. And Pink Floyd. And the Time. All have sought the sax services of Candy Dulfer, 22, the Dutch native whose debut solo album's title cut, Saxuality, opens with an anonymous voice saying, "I know she looks good, but can she play?"

Dulfer answers with a jazzy, funked-up collection of tunes that has yielded a Top 20 singles hit, "Lily Was Here," and helped Saxuality turn gold, rare alchemy for an instrumental pop album. "The fact is that I'm young and I'm a girl," says Dulfer, obviously not a graduate of the Charlie Parker Older-Guy-in-a-Rumpled Suit School of sax players. "You can package something to death, but in the end the music is really the most important thing."

And music, for Dulfer, comes naturally. The only child of Dutch jazz saxophonist Hans Dulfer and his wife, Inge (who now acts as her daughter's manager), Candy grew up on a bandstand. "From the moment I could walk," she says, "I would follow my father onstage and hang on to his pants while he played." By 12, Dulfer herself was playing in an all-female band, and two years later she formed her own group, Funky Stuff. "School became a hobby for me," she says. "Music was my real life."

In 1989 the music began paying off when Dulfer collaborated with Dave Stewart on the title song of the Dutch drama Lily Was Here. The song was recorded in one take, became a European hit and now—two years later—has become one in the U.S. as well. Its success has allowed Dulfer to move out of her parents' home and into her own Amsterdam apartment near that of Dutch actor Tom Hoffman, 30, her boyfriend of three years. Dulfer won't be seeing much of Hoffman for a while, though. Last week, she started her first U.S. tour, and despite her disclaimers, seems ready to show off both her licks and her looks. "When people come and see a show," she admits, "it's not just music."

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