Wayman Tisdale — The Fonk Record

Oct. 15, 2010

Buckle up; here we go.  Before going home, our departed brother, the benevolent gentle giant of smooth jazz, bassist Wayman Tisdale, decided to accomplish one more goal as a gift to us all: To complete work on one of the funkiest, nastiest, grittiest records of his illustrious and joyous though short career, The Fonk Record, due out on Oct. 26.   Admittedly, this one caught me totally by surprise, not being aware that such a monster was being created in the “lab” and mind of the happy bassist (referred to here as perhaps an undercover “funkateer”). This one turns a kinda “bad boy funksta” spotlight on the jazz musician who, while often taking us down memory lane to party to the tunes of Sly Stone, James Brown, and EWF, didn’t put as much emphasis on the “naughty” funk element as he does here. This is Wayman Tisdale funk on steroids.

With help from such Lords of Funk as George Clinton and George Duke  and inspired by artists like Bootsy Collins and the Gap Band, Tisdale created his own funky moniker called Tiz and the Fonkie Planetarians band (yes, and you can only imagine until you fully hear this behemoth product). The towering man of steel plows through this set with that infectious glee and a touch of mischief as he implores his band (and us) to move, dance, sing, etc.  Energy? Is the sun bright? Soulful? Is snow cold? Raw? Is funk at its core form spelled F-O-N-K?

Many, especially fellow funksters from yesteryear, may actually deem this as Tisdale’s best offering. It’s hard not to go there, especially considering his state of mind and that effervescent and overwhelmingly positive spirit and personality despite his diagnosis and ultimate departure.  To hear how much creativity this man still had to offer and how he so loved offering it is equally sad and uplifting.

All of the tunes here, from “The Introduction” to “Wayman’s Gotta Do It” are solidly packed with funk and soul. The mid-to-up-tempo funk is thick, the slow, soulful tunes are stirring.  The tongue-in-cheek (and oft downright hilarious) passages just add extra flavor to an already spicy production. One very moving track is “Been Here Before,” featuring the soulful croonings of the now-departed former Temptations lead singer Ali Woodson as he took a moment in the song to address how much he missed the great bassist.  A very riveting and somber moment indeed.

The Fonk Record’s got it all, and, again, we have to give a HUGE thanks to the man who gave us so many smiles and so much sunshine through his music, his fun-loving nature, and his very sprit.  The party continues, Wayman, my brother, and you still occupy a huge space on the stage and the dance floor.  I know I speak for legions upon legions of fans when I say that our love remains boundless for you.  What a party Heaven must be havin’!  – Ronald Jackson