Wayman Tisdale takes a giant leap forward

Written by Michael Marsh

I found it to be an extremely entertaining blend of upbeat and mellow jams, which are mostly written or co-written by Wayman, with a couple of covers of other artist’s songs thrown in for good measure.  Wayman begins his set with a real bang, presenting us with a number that I really like, entitled “Let’s Do It Again”.

There’s no doubt about who’s in charge on this one, as Wayman dominantly thumps his bass from beginning to end.  Just in case “Let’s Do It Again” isn’t jamming enough for you, Tisdale really ups the ante on Track 2, with a really cooking version of Kool and the Gang’s “Get Down On It”.  Wayman mellows things out a little with his third cut, “Shape Of Your Heart”, which he co-wrote with Jeff Lorber and, Track 4 keeps the mood flowing easy with a number entitled “Conversation Piece”, on which he is accompanied by Bob James. Tisdale and James’ bass/piano duet is really delightful on this one. As a loyal fan of Sly & The Family Stone, I was particularly pleased to hear Tisdale’s tribute on Track 5.  “If You Want Me To Stay” was always one of my favorite songs by Sly & The Family Stone, and Wayman’s version definitely does it justice.  He mellows it out just a little bit from the original version, but trust me, with Kirk Whalum adding his sax and Rex Rideout on keyboards, it’s still plenty funky.

Eric Benet gets in on the fun, as he joins Tisdale on the next cut, a basically R & B number entitled “Sweet Dreams” and, the high profile guest artists continue on Track 7, as Wayman is joined by Jeff Lorber (keyboards) and Tom Braxton (saxophone) on “It’s A Good Day”.  With the eighth track, Wayman really laid it down for me.  As a loyal, died-in-the-wool funkateer from the late 60’s and 70’s, “Tell It Like It ’Tis” immediately grabbed me and awakened the funk that was laying dormant in my bones.  This one is about as funky as it can get in the world of smooth jazz.  When I heard it the very first time, I was immediately taken back to the days of George Duke’s “Dukey Stick” and “Reach For It”.  The accuracy of my ear was confirmed, just as soon as I checked out the liner notes of the CD and saw that George Duke wrote it and plays keyboards.  After laying the funk down so heavy on Track 8, Wayman had no choice but to mellow things out for the rest of the CD, and that’s what you’ll find on Tracks 9, 10 and 11.  On “My Song (A Song For Bubba)”, Tisdale is joined by his son, Wayman Tisdale, Jr. on the vocal lead in and by Dave Koz on saxophone, while on the final cut, “Sunday’s Best”,Wayman is joined by Jonathan Butler (guitar and vocals) and Kirk Whalum (sax).In my book, Wayman Tisdale’s “Way Up!” gets five stars out of a possible five.  This CD is definitely a “must have” for your smooth jazz collection.

Michael Marsh is the jazz reviewer for TNCP. To make contact, you may e-mail him at tmarshmellow@aol.com for review.