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January/February 1997

Wayman Tisdale
In the Zone
Mo Jazz

NBA star Wayman Tisdale is nearly as imposing a figure on bass as he is on the basketball court, popping and slapping out driving funk grooves with muscle, and hitting the holes and soloing with grace and creativity. These talents are in evidence on In the Zone (MoJazz 314530696; 67:30), but in the context of overly glossy, mostly boring compositions ranging from cold and electronic ("These Feelings") to slowed-to-a-standstill dull (a would-be boudoir take on Seals & Crofts' "Summer Breeze"). There are some notable departures from the formula funk-lite, however, like "Washington High," which gets its spark and punch from underlying Hammond B3 and Tisdale's bass leads. Another highlight, the acoustic-textured "No Me Without You" is Zone's sparsest arrangement, giving Tisdale a chance to sing out in resonant bass tones. The album is tied together by Tisdale's spoken narration of moments spent "in the zone." Even though the bluesy background to these "interludes" is some of the album's most appealing music, the narrative comes across as somewhat egotistical and self-indulgent. Tisdale clearly has musical talent-what he needs now is a better game plan.

Originally published in January/February 1997
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