Billy Martin & Wil Blades wanna make you Shimmy. On their debut recording, the organ/drums duo waste no time getting right down to it. They go old school in the tradition of those essential organ-groove sides by the likes of Charles Earland, Brother Jack McDuff and Groove Holmes. Martin, the drummer for the legendary Medeski, Martin & Wood, and Blades, a much buzzed about young organist from the San Francisco live music scene, first came together for a low-key, one-off late night set during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 2011. The music that evening was so completely deep down in the pocket that the pair knew instantly there would be more shows together in their future. A West Coast tour was arranged for later in the year, which played to packed houses from Washington to California. In the middle of the run, Martin and Blades ducked into a Berkeley recording studio to capture what would become Shimmy. The electricity between the drummer and organist runs high voltage through tunes like “Brother Bru,” “Toe Thumb” and “Les & Eddie.” Speaking of Les and Eddie, Billy and Wil turn out a blazing rendition of Eddie Harris’ “Means Greens,” as well as updating the traditional spiritual “Down By The Riverside.”
But before anyone thinks Martin has set aside his proclivity for rhythmic exploration in favor of straight-ahead groove, he demonstrates that the time space continuum is still fair game on tracks like the slinky “Deep In A Fried Pickle,” the jagged “Pick Pocket” and the swirling “Give.” Simultaneously, Blades takes this opportunity to coax some of the album’s darkest and most psychedelic sounds out of his B3 and clavinet. The kinetic chemistry between Martin/Blades assures that while Shimmy reaches back to embrace the retro, the duo can’t help but push the tradition ever forward.