Wayman Tisdale

Way Up!

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Wayman Tisdale returns to the recording fold after a two-year break to issue another jazz-funk, groove-laden coaster with Way Up! The case of characters on this set is enormous, a few of the more prominent names include Jeff Lorber, Bob James, George Duke, Ricky Peterson, Kirk Whalum, Jonathan Butler, Dave Koz and Mel Brown. Tisdale, as expected, plays "lead bass" on all tracks. His bass-playing, tuned way up high, feels more like an electric baritone guitar than anything else. He plays it like a lead guitarist who never, ever falls out of time. Check out "Let's Do It Again," or "Get Down on It," that also features Darren Rahn's saxophone sweetening things up quite a bit., and Brown's bass holding down the bottom end as Tisdale riffs it up. Lorber uses slippery programming and treated keyboards on the ballad "Shape of Your Heart," with a lovely solo by saxophonist by Donald Hayes. Tisdale's melodic sensibility is simple, but tasty too, and he employs it throughout here. His read of Sly Stone's "If You Want Me to Stay," would be heresy except that it contains fine keyboard work from Lorber, a great saxophone chart and solo by Whalum, and Tisdale's take on the melody is just gritty enough to get away with it, making it one of the set's finer cuts. Check "Sweet Dreams," with vocals by Eric Benet, and we have a neo-soul single in the making. George Duke's "Tell It Like It Is" is the baddest funk on the side, and the synth horns, brass, and the doubling of Duke's synth playing and Tisdale's gutbucket chops make it the winner on an album where there are no losers.

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