The Fonk Record is the final record Wayman Tisdale recorded before his death in 2009. Tisdale's funk chops could be heard on his contemporary jazz albums throughout the past decade, but The Fonk Record transports listeners all the way back to the 1970s. In a way, it shouldn't be surprising that Tisdale was a funkateer. After all, he grew up playing the bass in the 1970s - a time when bass players in funk had the same stature as electric guitar players in rock. I figure Tisdale was a teenager learning the bass line to "Slide" just like all of the other young bass players from that era. So The Fonk Record is a touching farewell as Tisdale dedicates an entire album to the music that was so important to him and which played a major role in his musical development.
The Fonk Record is a love labor of love from a stone cold funkateer. Sonically, it captures the spirit of those albums by groups like Cameo, Parliament and The Gap Band with the banter and the skits and the alter egos. Hard core funkateers will enjoy counting the musical and lyrical allusions that Tisdale makes to those great bands. I counted at least nine off the top of my head. Funk from a lyrical standpoint can be escapist, fun and goofball, but it can also be ironic, symbolic and deep. George Clinton gave us "Aqua Boogie" and " Chocolate City ." Tisdale opts for the former, which is cool in times like these. And better yet, the musicianship is first rate.
That last point is an important one. Because funk was such fun music, it's easy to forget that funk musicians were highly skilled. Many of them came to the music from a jazz and blues background. Those cats could play, and that is certainly that comes through on The Fonk Record. Musical high points include the Bootsy Collins-influenced ballad "Sunshine," and "This Fonk Is 4U," a ode to the old school funk that includes some memorable banter by George Clinton ("A tail ain't nothing but a long bootie") -- a laugh out loud classic.
The Fonk Record is a fun, goofy and virtuosic record that will bring smiles to the faces of funkateers while also providing lots of sampling opportunities to a new generation of hip-hoppers. Recommended.
By Howard Dukes (Writing on the one)