Music » Livewire

Wayman Tisdale

With Dave Koz & Friends. Friday, June 18, at the Palace Theatre.

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It's likely that at 6 foot 9, Wayman Tisdale is the tallest bass player in smooth jazz. It's also quite likely that he's the only jazz bassist to earn an Olympic gold medal, and for sure he owns the genre's best pension plan, having spent 12 seasons in the NBA (Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, and Phoenix Suns) after being selected second overall (behind Patrick Ewing) in the 1985 draft. And it's not as if Tisdale's new career causes him to shy away from his athletic past -- his first two albums were titled Power Forward and In the Zone.

Surprisingly enough, music came first -- through a toy guitar given to him by his late father, the Reverend Louis Tisdale. After all but the two lowest strings were broken, the younger Tisdale, a left-hander, turned the instrument upside down and backwards, Hendrix-style, and transformed himself into a bass player. That is, until a 24-inch growth spurt caught the attention of local basketball coaches.

Tisdale's most recent release, 21 Days, not only pays tribute to his father but brings smooth jazz into the world of urban gospel with songs like "We Worship," "Little Prayer," "Glory Glory," and "Jesus Is the Answer" -- making Friday's Palace Theatre performance the most likely place in Greater Cleveland to hear a ripping bass solo followed by a resounding Amen.

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