COCKTAILS AND COIFS

Forget about all that trendy "cocktail nation" stuff, the music of Esquivel is in a category of its own. The man made a slew of dynamic instrumental records in the Fifties and Sixties that utilized space-age stereo in a way no one ever had. Of course, you can find all of this out for yourself by rushing out to buy the recently released Music From a Sparkling Planet, the second Esquivel compilation from the thoughtful folks at Bar None Records. But how many of you out there possess the ability to actually look like the mono-named genius from south of the border?

Stop fingering the NuNile, we have a winner. The Valley's very own Paul Wilson walked away with top honors at Bar None's recent Esquivel look-a-like contest at the legendary club Bimbo's in San Francisco. Many of you may be familiar with Wilson's brilliant films on subjects such as feces, Fifties courtesy and cooking that have shown at Valley Art Theatre; if you've seen any of his works, you know he's absolutely meticulous when it comes to period costumes.

It seems Wilson was vacationing where Tony Bennett left his heart, unaware that the contest was even going to take place. As he relates, it was all a magical coincidence: "I'd only brought one cocktail outfit for the whole trip, and I just happened to have a pair of horn-rimmed glasses that I wear when I want to look extra Fifties," Wilson reveals. "So I shaved--I normally let a beard grow when I'm not doing things with my dresses--and when we got there, everyone was turned out in vintage clothes.

"I didn't try to do my hair or anything, but I had the glasses on. And I think they really liked my shoes, I had these two-tone wing tips and this loud gold jacket with sparkling gold thread. They did an applause meter and I won!" The delighted Wilson received a vintage cocktail shaker for his superb Esquivelity--congratulations, Paul!!

I admit, not only do I not like sports, I know nothing about them. I don't know how people can sit in front of a TV for hours watching guys run around and hit each other or throw things and jump in the air when that time could be used for something rewarding like chain-smoking, sleeping or panning for gold. I'll even include listening to music among those big three, which just happens to lead us to Wayman Tisdale.

Since the Suns are as important as air conditioning to most people in this town, Tisdale's name is well-known. But forcing basketballs through hoops isn't the only kind of jamming--that's a sports joke--the six-foot-nine-inch player can do. Wayman is an accomplished jazz bassist, and he's out to prove it to the world with Power Forward, his debut CD on the Mojazz label. His brand of music is "urban contemporary jazz," and on Saturday, Tisdale and his group 5th Quarter will host a release party at the Mesa Amphitheatre at 7 p.m. But first, a little Q&A:

Screed: I'm surprised you have time to play music--I'd think things would be basketball, basketball, basketball.

Tisdale: You know, you have free time when you play basketball. It's not basketball, basketball, basketball. And I don't go out--I just go home and hook up my bass.

S: Who were your bass influences?
WT: I idolized three players growing up. A guy by the name of Robert Wilson--he used to play in the Gap Band and he grew up down the street from me. He tried to teach me some things. Marcus Miller, who is like my mentor and taught me the most of anybody, and Stanley Clark.

S: Do you find it's hard to be taken seriously as a musician?
WT: Oh yeah, that's the story of my life. Before I got to Mojazz, people would say, "Oh no, another novelty, a guy who's just seeking the limelight, he doesn't know the business." I've had a hard road of going through those type of situations.

S: Do you wish you'd chosen music over sports?
WT: I'm so glad I didn't. I don't think I would have been complete going with one instead of the other. I've played, produced and written songs for people all through my NBA career and before it.

S: Do you find music more challenging than basketball?
WT: It's much like the way it is in basketball, but with music it's more personal, it comes from within. When I'm playing music in front of people, they're hearing what's going on in my head, which kind of makes you a little more nervous.

S: Does Barkley play anything?
WT: I don't think so. Well, he plays his mouth. He loves to listen to himself sing!

S: Does he sing in the shower?
WT: I hope not.
S: I'd imagine that a music career can last longer than one in professional sports.

WT: I'm really looking forward to the day when I will be doing just music--in about five years. But right now, basketball is my priority and I love the game and I'm ready to stay as long as I can.

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