Wayman Tisdale

Decisions

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When Wayman Tisdale was ten-years-old, he lay his hands for the first time on the two items which would eventually determine the dual nature of his life: a basketball and a six string guitar. Sports fans know where the first one led -- to a successful all-star career in the NBA where the 6'9" Tisdale totaled 5,000 rebounds and played for the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. Smooth jazz enthusiasts who know nothing of his hoop life made his MoJazz albums Power Forward and In the Zone -- recorded during his off-seasons in 1995 and 1996 -- Top Ten hits on the Billboard chart. While those titles gave the impression of an athlete dabbling in a side career, his Atlantic debut Decisions -- recorded as he hung up his Air Jordans after 12 years on the court -- gets down to more serious business. Playing the bass isn't just a hobby anymore. If the guest list at Tisdale's coming out party is any indication, earning the respect of his peers can be crossed off the worry list. Keyboardist Brian Culbertson, for one, proves a melodic soulmate, matching his high ivory tones note for note with Tisdale's plucky, lower register melody on "Breakfast with Tiffany," a bouncy tune that shows Tisdale's remarkable smooth jazz radio savvy. On "Ain't No Lovin'," Tisdale takes the melodic lead with both bass and airy vocals over the subtle intertwining double keyboards of Culbertson (simulating the Rhodes) and Jerome Harmon (Hammond B-3). Tisdale also takes genre stars Gerald Albright, Norman Brown, Everette Harp, Marcus Miller and Marc Antoine downcourt for a little one on one. "The Wiz" does some stylish little double dribbling on a call and response with Albright's sax on "Bass Man" after Albright dances around Brown's crisp, Wesbound licks. Harp's soft soprano melody blends smoothly with Tisdale and Antoine's laid-back acoustic on "Fell in Love," and Antoine challenges the leader to pick up the steel string acoustic and play gingerbread man after the Frenchman's skittery nylon strings on the Latin-flavored "Mexicoco."

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