Liner Note Authors: Kent Zimmerman; Keith Zimmerman.
Released in 2007, The Very Best of Wayman Tisdale compiled tracks from the jazz bassist's early records for the MoJazz division of Motown. In the aftermath of Tisdale's untimely death from cancer in 2009, The Wayman Tisdale Story follows up, skipping over the musician's two-album sojourn at Atlantic (Decisions, Face to Face) and gathering material from his later albums such as Hang Time, Way Up!, and Rebound. Tisdale used his bass guitar as a lead instrument rather than merely a timekeeper, so that his playing was more like a regular guitar lead, just set to a lower register. His typical approach to smooth jazz is reflected in such tracks as "Rebound," which finds him intertwining with Dave Koz's horn. But such efforts turn out to be less interesting than the outliers included on this compilation, notably "It's Alright" from Tisdale's gospel sojourn, Presents 21 Days, which mixes an acoustic guitar with a vocal harmony group, and the two selections from the posthumously released The Fonk Record, "The Introduction" and "Let's Ride," both of which find Tisdale re-creating the sound of Parliament/Funkadelic. His affection for late-`60s/early-`70s R&B/funk is never in doubt, though, with tracks like "Tell It Like It TIS" and "Ready to Hang" indulging in jazz fusion and allowing the bassist to make like Larry Graham from Sly & the Family Stone. His tragic end is given a sincere, if sentimental reflection from Toby Keith in the album's ballad closer, "Cryin' for Me (Wayman's Song)," but he is better remembered by some of the livelier playing on this representative sampling of his work. ~ William Ruhlmann