Fight against cancer inspires Tisdale's 'Rebound' Print
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Friday, 13 June 2008 08:11
NBA Headline News

 OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -Wayman Tisdale's newest CD starts with a chuckle and a proclamation: ``When life tries to get you down, it's the perfect time for a rebound. It's my turn.''
Tisdale knows all about rebounding - and scoring, for that matter - from a 12-year career in the NBA that followed three record-setting seasons at Oklahoma.
His latest work, though, has little to do with basketball. ``Rebound'' is inspired by Tisdale's ongoing fight against the bone cancer that was discovered last year in his right knee when he broke his leg at his Los Angeles home.
The journey from the diagnosis to recovery is evident in the jazz guitarist's new album, which starts with the title track and ends with ``Grateful,'' which he says is inspired by the cancer's early discovery and how that increased his chances for survival.
``Nothing can change me,'' Tisdale said. ``You go through things. You don't change because things come in your life. You get better because things come in your life.''
Tisdale has progressed far enough after an eight-hour knee replacement surgery that he's been able to resume touring. He'll hit both coasts and visit Japan before performing on a jazz cruise in January. He's also working on an autobiography, titled ``Facing the Music,'' that he hopes to publish next year.
And when he's not working on his music, he's enjoying his first granddaughter - 1-year-old Bailey.
``I feel better than ever. I'm excited. I've got a whole new look on life. I look at life on a whole 'nother radar,'' said Tisdale, who's still undergoing chemotherapy.
Tisdale wouldn't give clearance for his doctors to talk about his prognosis. According to statistics from the National Cancer Institute, about 63 percent of people diagnosed with bone cancer live at least 10 more years.
On the jacket to his new CD, Tisdale gives thanks to all those who helped him get through his tough times and says ``the hardest part of this ordeal was when my music stopped and when I was unable to perform.''
But out of that trauma came what Tisdale called ``probably some of my best work yet,'' combining his usual ``urban funk jazz'' sound with what he believes is his strongest songwriting.
``It made me dig deeper, dig and find some new ground,'' he said.
Tisdale gained fame in the early 1980s, setting the Sooners' career scoring and rebounding records before getting drafted second overall by the Indiana Pacers in 1985. He went on to average 15.3 points in the NBA with the Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns before focusing on his music career.
Several of his albums have made the top 10 on the Billboard charts and his last album of new music - ``Way Up!'' - spent four weeks as the No. 1 Contemporary Jazz album after debuting in July 2006.
Eight albums in, Tisdale doesn't think his music career has much to do with his basketball playing days.
``It's so diverse. It's so different,'' he said. ``You can't make people buy your music if they don't like it.''
``Rebound'' features guest appearances by several artists - including saxophonist Dave Koz on the title track and country star Toby Keith on a remake of Barry White's ``Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up.''
Keith, a fellow Oklahoman and longtime Sooners fan, approached Tisdale about collaborating. Tisdale said he was immediately on board, and Keith drove to Tisdale's Tulsa studio for a recording session.
``He doesn't sing, so he plays jazz bass,'' Keith said. ``He'll take a remake sometimes and play it real good, real cool on his bass and do a real neat jazz version. I said, 'Well I can sing this thing.'''
The two first teamed up years ago when Keith was hosting a made-for-TV Super Bowl party and invited Tisdale to join Ted Nugent, Sammy Hagar, Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler and others in an all-star band.
``He's just a friend of mine, and I can sing anything,'' Keith said. ``I like all kinds of music. I like to experiment. If I'd have got up there and it wouldn't have worked, we wouldn't have released it. But it worked really good.''
The capper to the CD is ``Grateful,'' which begins with another sentiment from Tisdale - whose voice is rarely heard otherwise in his mostly instrumental work - in the form of a prayer: ``Even when my days were their darkest, you were there for me.''
It also features some words of encouragement at the end, finishing with Tisdale telling the listener, ``Remember, you're just a rebound away.''
It's just the finish Tisdale wanted, in hopes that his own survival story will encourage others going through hard times.
``I'm always big on that. Please don't feel sorry for me,'' Tisdale said. ``Don't look at my situation as, `Whoa, pitiful Wayman.'''
 

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