Wayman Tisdale - The Wayman Tisdale Story (CD/DVD)

Wayman Tisdale
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The cynical response would have been to dismiss Wayman Tisdale as a vanity artist when he released Power Forward, his appropriately titled debut album in 1995. And I’m sure that more than a few people who did not know about Tisdale’s background likely viewed Tisdale as Shaquille O’Neal with an electric bass. Shaq fancies himself as a rapper and an actor, but he’ll never make anyone forget Tupac (who was pretty good at doing both). Tisdale, as anyone who watches the documentary The Wayman Tisdale Story will know, played bass in his father’s church.

The cynical response would have been to dismiss Wayman Tisdale as a vanity artist when he released Power Forward, his appropriately titled debut album in 1995. And I’m sure that more than a few people who did not know about Tisdale’s background likely viewed Tisdale as Shaquille O’Neal with an electric bass. Shaq fancies himself as a rapper and an actor, but he’ll never make anyone forget Tupac (who was pretty good at doing both). Tisdale, as anyone who watches the documentary The Wayman Tisdale Story will know, played bass in his father’s church.

The only people who get to make a joyful noise in church are the members when they sing a congregational song (or an occasional solo). Musicians have to be able to play. The fact that Tisdale was a PK – preacher’s kid – didn’t give him any squatters’ rights in the musician’s area. Being an All-America and Olympic Gold Medal winner in college and a professional basketball player who averaged 15 points a game in the NBA might get money out of a music fan’s pocket - once. However, Tisdale made eight records (which includes one released posthumously), so he’d long slain the perception that music was nothing more than a vainglorious ego trip. Tisdale maintained his connection with his dad’s church. He returned to Tulsa to play on Sundays while attending school at the University of Oklahoma. However, if it was wrong to reduce Tisdale to simply being a basketball player, it’s also incorrect to fence in his musical interests. The CD The Wayman Tisdale Story makes that point clear.

Religious and inspirational music has a prominent space on The Wayman Tisdale story. Two tracks, "Glory Glory" from the album Hang Time and "It’s Alright" from 21 showcase Tisdale’s contemporary gospel chops. However, Tisdale was a child of the 1970s, which means he spent some time listening to funk music. This compilation record also features two tracks from the posthumous album The Fonk Record, a disc that showed that Tisdale knew how to have fun and play funk music at a high level. In a way, Fonk Record tracks like "The Introduction" and "Let’s Ride" are Tisdale’s way of paying tribute to fellow funk bassist Bootsy Collins, as well as The Gap Band, Tisdale’s Tulsa homeboys.

Tisdale was perhaps best known as a contemporary jazz musician, and The Wayman Tisdale Story leans heaviest on that part of the Tisdale repertoire. Fans who listen to Tisdale’s performances on tracks such as "Rebound" and "One On One" will hear a bass player with an extremely melodic style. He had the creativity to bring the bass to the foreground, but he also knew how to use the instrument to provide that bottom for his sidemen. That probably explains why renowned artists like George Duke and Jonathan Butler were more than willing to answer his call.

Part greatest hits, part musical tribute, The Wayman Tisdale Story CD and DVD will serve as an excellent gift for music fans and basketball fans who want to learn more about the other facets of an immensely talented man who left us far too soon. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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