Axman Wayman Tisdale

Is there any clearer sign that the nightlife situation in this city needs some serious rethinking than the fact that I have to drive clear to Tacoma to catch this year's Smooth Jazz Christmas? A bunch of feckless club owners have made our community unwelcoming to deep grooves and slow jams, and believe me, my work on this issue is not done. Nonetheless, to Tacoma I will go—though it's not on account of the headliner, saxophonist Dave Koz. I confess he's a bit tepid for my taste, a bit white, if you don't mind my saying so. He's playing it but he doesn't mean it, in my estimation, and there's no room for that in the true smooth philosophy. No, I'm in this one at the $65 level because of my man Wayman on the bass. Tisdale takes his ax where it should be: center stage. Yes, he will lay down some of the thickest slices of funk-fudge you've ever heard. But then he'll just drop the bottom out and take over the lead voice, ripping out soulful bass melodies that leave Koz holding his horn and crying for Mommy. I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Tisdale at a Hennessy Listening Party in L.A., and he's a perfect gentleman to boot. Yes, he used to be a professional basketball player for the Phoenix Kings and others, but he's found a far higher purpose now. He's one playa I'd be happy to build an arena for.

Sun., Dec. 16, 8 p.m., 2007

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