Wayman Tisdale – The Fonk Record

After a stellar career that produced eight top-selling jazz CDs and one gospel project, prepare yourself for a different side of Wayman Tisdale—one that was 12 years in the making!

It’s The Fonk Record featuring 11 original songs, Tisdale’s own funky vocals and a crew of down-and-dirty musicians, The Fonk Record also boasts three guest stars with extensive funk résumés—George Clinton, George Duke and Ali Woodson.

To those who knew him best, it seemed only natural that Tisdale would craft a funk project. “He always wanted to make funk music,” says Derek (DOA) Allen, who produced The Fonk Record and was one of Tisdale’s closest friends. “People are going to see a whole ‘nother side of Wayman on this record—he was on a mission to play as hard and funky as he could.”

Tisdale confided in Allen that a funk project was something he always wanted to do. At first it was a playful joke with a few demos here and there. Inspired by great funk artists like Bootsy Collins and Robert Wilson of the Gap Band, Tisdale created his own funky moniker: Tiz and named his band The Fonkie Planetarians. His power source came from Stinky the Sock! Those who were lucky enough to catch Tisdale in concert got a glimpse of his alter ego when he’d perform 20 to 30-minute funk-filled interludes during his jazz shows. “If you saw it, you knew it was the most explosive part of his show,” Allen says. “That’s when the party got started!”

But Tisdale was way too busy with his successful jazz career to focus attention on his fonk. Between hosting jazz cruises, headlining tours, and being an active and loving husband and father, there wasn’t much time. One thing changed that: a diagnosis of cancer in 2007. Tisdale could not ignore his alter ego any longer. “He spent the last two years of his life finishing The Fonk Record,” says Allen. “Only he knew, when no one else did, that God was going to call him home. While he was in the hospital getting chemotherapy, he used funk music as therapy. I would send him files to listen to and it was part of the healing process. When he died, he was at peace.”

The Fonk Record cover features a colorful illustration of Tisdale sporting an Afro and green shades. “It was all part of the concept,” Allen says. “Wayman wanted to put on an Afro wig and a gold tooth, strap on his funky bass and walk down the streets of L.A. to meet record company executives.” Inside the CD, Tisdale’s transformation from a jazz musician to a funk master is portrayed comic-book style. The fonk begins with “The Introduction,” in which Tisdale welcomes listeners to “WTIZ, where it’s not simulated, it’s authenticated.” He also explains a little about the CD and what listeners can expect. The intro leads to the first big collaboration, “Let’s Ride,” featuring George Duke, who wields his magic dukey stick on some hard-charging synthesizer solos as Tisdale channels his best Larry Blackmon, while also displaying his own vocal chops. Next is “This Fonk Is 4U” with the unmistakable vocals of George Clinton. The late Ali Woodson of the Temptations joins Tisdale on the slow-jam sweetness and strings of “Been Here Before.” “Sunshine” is another slow-jam gem—this time with wailing rock guitars. “Neck Bones” and “If U Really Want To Know (I Like It Fonk-Kaa)” show that Tisdale certainly has put his own stamp on the funk legacy.

The Fonk Record was a labor of love for Tisdale, as well as for Allen. It was back in the late 80s that Allen met Tisdale one night at Arco Arena in Sacramento. Allen was playing bass for Janet Jackson, and Tisdale—at that time a star power forward for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings—was watching from the sidelines. “He said he was a bass player too and that we should hook up,” says Allen, who would go on to appear on several of Tisdale’s recordings, including 2008’s Rebound, the final jazz release of Tisdale’s career. “I watched him go from being a very good bass player to becoming a great bass player.”

Source: Mack Avenue

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