Phyllis Blanford | Edgewalker

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Jazz: Jazz Vocals Spoken Word: With Music Moods: Solo Female Artist
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by Phyllis Blanford

EDGEWALKER is music that swings! It's the heartbeat, it's the first drum! It makes you smile, it makes you think, it makes you tap your feet and shake your hips! The spoken word will make you nod your head and say YEAH that's dope. Swinging to words!
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Vocals
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Blue Woman
6:32 $0.99
2. Throw It Away
4:52 $0.99
3. Save Your Love for Me
6:54 $0.99
4. Night and Day
4:34 $0.99
5. Good Morning Kiss
5:18 $0.99
6. Come Rain or Come Shine
6:05 $0.99
7. When Sunny Gets Blue
5:19 $0.99
8. Speak Low
4:49 $0.99
9. How I Feel
4:40 $0.99
10. You Don't Know What Love Is
6:06 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Phyllis Blanford
Liner Notes by Willard Jenkins

Push play and the voice addresses your ears and sensibility pretty quickly; one central impression is that, thank goodness, not yet another green ingénue trying to sing jazz! Immediately one gets the sense of a vocal presence blessed with proper seasoning, one that has lived life and knows how to express life in a song, how to breath her own life experiences into a good lyric; knows both love and longing, the pleasantries of life and life’s pitfalls, and one who knows the true jazz sound. “Just as atoms are the building blocks of everything, so is jazz,” she declares.

Aptly titled Edgewalker, clearly this new release marks a very positive turning point in Ms. Blanford’s odyssey. “Its my second chance at living the life that I was born to live but never formerly acknowledged,” she admits. “Even though I sang at Lincoln Center and performed on stages and clubs throughout Europe, I never believed in my gifts,” acknowledgement the listener will find difficult to believe when encountering this disc, given her vocal self-assurance and easeful though persuasive way with this repertoire. “I’ve had to work my way back and Edgewalker is the product of that long and arduous journey!”

One of the hallmarks of this disc is the arrangements of saxophonist and co-producer Don Braden. Evidence? Check his soulful horn refreshment of Buddy Johnson's “Save Your Love For Me.” Their partnership, along with co-producer Kate Baker, sounds not only simpatico within this disc but also just as the fates would have it. Braden was recommended to Phyllis and shortly after they connected they coincidentally found themselves seated across the aisle from each other on a flight from Amsterdam! “That moment solidified our connection,” says Braden.

“The thing that impresses me most about Phyllis is her work ethic. My fairly challenging arrangements, though they were crafted to support her vocals and her overall aesthetic goals, provided another set of obstacles for her to overcome. I incorporated a lot of re-harmonization, some varied rhythmic approaches, and all the textures of the horn section; that’s a lot to adapt to! She dug it, did the work, and sounds beautiful,” Braden confirms. “I related to the Afro-centric orientation of her musical tastes; her voice is rich and strong… the voice of a “sister”; very expressive, passionate, and honest.

Indeed that passion, expressiveness and pure honesty, coupled with a sense of vulnerability that conveys to the listener, is part of the appeal of Edgewalker, whose title accurately conveys Ms. Blanford’s hang/fly sensibilities and her attitude that she’s been through the fire and come out nurtured and whole. Her carefully chosen repertoire for this date bears a certain autobiographical sensibility. For example her approach to Gene de Paul’s classic “You Don’t Know What Love Is” makes clear that she has experienced the trepidations of love and come out clean on the other side. Dig the spoken word she lends to this performance.

The program on this disc includes several classics mixed with a couple of great tunes from Carmen Lundy’s fertile songbook, plus Abbey Lincoln’s declarative “Throw It Away.” She tellingly opens with Lundy’s superb song of female empowerment, “Blue Woman,” and indeed Carmen would appreciate the positivity of the spoken word that Phyllis tags onto her performance. Not content with ‘baby I love you’ rehash, Blanford confidently digs into these Lundy and Lincoln literate declarations.

Accompanying Phyllis on this journey is a splendid cast of veteran players. “Prior to this recording, with the exception of James Gibbs, I’d never worked with any of these musicians, though I was aware of their stellar reputations. Drummer Winard Harper and bassist Kenny Davis bring a wealth of vocal accompaniment experience – Harper particularly with Betty Carter, Davis notably with Carmen Lundy – “and it was an honor that Vic Juris and Stefon Harris agreed to play on my first CD.”

For Ms. Blanford, trumpeter James Gibbs was a familiar collaborator, and percussionist Mayra Casales was an essential participant, particularly given her familiarity with the two Carmen Lundy pieces. “I knew I wanted Mayra Casales, she co-wrote “Good Morning Kiss” with Carmen, I love her work. Vincent Gardner,” who contributes brass proud trombone solos to “Blue Woman,” and the intro to “Night and Day,” "is just fabulous,"! Ted Brancato, who arrived at producer Baker’s recommendation, very ably contributes the all-important piano accompaniment. Vibraphonist Stefon Harris’ unique vocalized vibes lend beautifully, particularly when he solos on “Come Rain or Come Shine.” Don surrounded me with musicians he knew would shine a light on my soul, give it wings and let it fly! And fly Phyllis Blanford does, sending her listeners “love, peace and light!”

Willard Jenkins is a DC-based journalist, broadcaster, and artistic director of the DC Jazz Festival, whose writings can also be found in the Independent Ear at



to write a review


A flawless album...
Phyllis Branford's album is flawless, beginning to end. Each track is worthy of standing alone, with top notch musicians performing killer arrangements of fantastic songs. "When Sunny Gets Blue" and "Throw It Away" are especially wonderful. Phyllis' expressive vocals make #Edgewalker a must-buy for any fan of jazz and vocalists. Treat yourself!


Goddess Manifest
This music is sultry, soulful, and danceable all at the same time. It is Blues, Jazz and spoken word in one place. I played it all weekend and it was an amazing hit at my birthday party. What an incredible find. Blue Woman reminds me of so many beautiful strong women who suffered whatever they were going through in silence but kept going; while looking amazing on the outside but dealing with their inner turmoil. While the tempo is upbeat I feel the pain of the woman to whom she’s singing.
This CD has a little of everything. It’s perfect for a quiet relaxing evening or gathering. Every song is beautiful and Phyllis Branford’s voice is amazing. I can’t decide which track is my favorite.
When I listen to Throw it Away I’m drawn to lost love and how I tried to hold on to failed relationships. She reminds “You can never lose a thing if it belongs to you”. That’s about growing up and recognizing somethings are for the moment and not meant for ever and that’s just fine.
Save Your Love for Me has a retro sound. It reminds me of Nancy Wilson
You Don’t Know What Love Is has a melodious spoken word piece that grabbed my attention. It is so soul wrenching, it touched my spirit. I played it over and over. Now I know what the blues is!

James Scott Jarvis

The Phoenix Rises
Phyllis Blanford draws on her extensive training and vocal versatility and rewards us with an engaging compilation that quickly takes your ear and mind into the quintessential intimate jazz venue for an evening with a real talent willing to share her feelings on relationships and love. She Isi supported by some fine jazz instrumental talent that never misses a beat, goes missing, or overwhelms her voice and allows her to command lyrics that draw you into the moment.