When a rookie, no matter how fierce his reputation was in college, hits the hardwood floor of the National Basketball Association, he's got to step up his game or he's going to get his head handed to him by the older pros who aren't impressed by flashy moves and big egos.
For twelve seasons in the NBA, Wayman Tisdale brought his "A" game to arenas across the country. In 1995, he released his debut jazz album, the appropriately titled Power Forward, which bullied its way to #4 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. Now on his seventh album, Tisdale is far removed from his days as a rookiehe's an accomplished professional. On Way Up!, he grooves right along with such veteran jazzers as Kirk Whalum, Bob James, Jeff Lorber, Jonathan Butler and Dave Koz.
"Let's Do It Again" and "Get Down On It" make for a funk double-team that gooses Way Up! into a fast break which never completely slows down, merely downshifting into a lower gear. At all times Tisdale's bass keeps the groove locked down. Darren Rahn's energetic saxophone solos on the first two tracks nicely complement Tisdale's playing.
"Shape of Your Heart" and "Conversation Piece" features keyboards by Jeff Lorber and Bob James, respectively, and these songs indicate how Tisdale has grown as a team player. His playing complements, instead of overwhelms, these two virtuoso old pros. Would Tisdale have been as confident in his own skills eleven years ago? It's hard to say, but without a doubt he is now a fully mature artist in his own right.
Tisdale describes his music as "old school cool" which is well reflected in his cover of the old Sly and the Family Stone chestnut, "If You Want Me to Stay." But he knows when to chill and let the music speak for itself as his bass shimmers on the closing track, "Sunday's Best," featuring Kirk Whalum's sax and Jonathan Butler on guitar and vocals.
Early on, it was legitimate to wonder if Wayman Tisdale wasn't just a basketball player dabbling with playing jazz bass. Way Up! removes all doubt and establishes Tisdale as a seasoned pro in his own right and one of the brightest talents in music today.
Track Listing: Let's Do It Again; Get Down On It; Shape of Your Heart: Conversation Piece: If You Want Me to Stay; Sunset Dreams; It's A Good Day; Tell It Like It Is; My Son (A Song For Bubba); Way Up; Sunday's Best
Personnel: Wayman Tisdale: bass, accoustic guitar, keyboards, drum programming & vocals; Eric Benet: vocals; Tom Braxton: saxophone; Mel Brown: bass; Jonathan Butler: accoustic guitar & vocals; Gordon Campbell: drums; Tracy "Platinum" Carter: keyboards & programming; Lenny Castro: percussion; Eric Dawkins: backing vocals; George Duke: keyboards & spoken word; Ray Fuller: guitar; Lisa Hampton: spoken word; Luther "Mano" Hanes: drum programming, keyboards & keyboard bass; Donald Hayes: saxophone; Bob James: piano; Dave Koz: saxophone; Jeff Lorber: drum programming, Wurlitzer, Minimoog solo, keyboards & piano; Tony Maider: guitar; Peter Olstad: trumpet & flugelhorn; Ricky Peterson: B-3 organ; Darren Rahn: saxophone, vocals, keyboards & drum programming; Rex Rideout: keyboard; Frank Selman: guitar; John "Jubu" Smith: guitar; Wayman Tisdale II: dialog, Rick Watford: guitar; Kirk Whalum: saxophone; Mike White: drums; Erik Zobler: spoken word