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Album Review

By all accounts from those who were there, the initial on-stage meeting between drummer Billy Martin and Hammond B-3 organist Wil Blades at the 2011 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was a barn burner of deep, in-the-pocket funk, spiraling soul-jazz, and kinetic grooves. Apparently, the two participants thought so, too; they arranged a late-year West Coast tour, and found time to cut Shimmy in Berkley in the middle of it. Shimmy is greasy; it's full of breakbeat funk, stellar jazz improvisation, and instinctive syncopation. Of these ten tunes — which range from just over a minute to a tad over seven — eight were either co-authored by the pair or were written by Blades. The two covers are a fat, nasty reading of Eddie Harris' "Mean Greens" and a straight-up, New Orleans-style take on "Down by the Riverside," with gorgeous, skittering, military-snare breaks from Martin. While there isn't a dud in the bunch, there are some standouts among the originals. "Deep in a Fried Pickle" begins slowly as a rolling, deep funk noir tune, with some great wah-wah effects on B-3 and Martin's backbeat-heavy approach to the vamp allows Blades to get his big batch of chord voicings out and put them on display. It's grimy as hell. "Les and Eddie" reflects — even with two different instruments — the true spirit of the collaborations between Les McCann and Eddie Harris. The whomping drum funk of "Toe Thumb," with Blades adding massive, wildly distorted chords to Martin's circular soloing, makes this the meanest tune on the set. The relaxed yet ambitious summertime strut of "Little Shimmy" features startling harmonic work by Blades as Martin urges him on with nearly non-stop fills and rolls while never losing the melodic thrust. Blades' playing style is firmly inside the historic B-3 tradition; he's a deeply melodic improviser, his rhythmic invention and his sonic palette set him apart. Shimmy is everything a drum and B-3 duo record should be: its tunes are high in the fingerpop quotient, it's greasy and danceable throughout, allowing soul-jazz, blues, and funk to get all over one another. Its sense of musical surprise and tight, inspired improvising make it essential for modern jazz and jam band fans.

Customer Reviews


For grease, funk, and great musicianship, this album can't be beat. Take it from an unbiased listener: The quicker you get it, the better your spiritual life is going to be.


Awesome! "Shimmy" brings back the vibe of early MMW but not in a parody or derivative type of way; Will Blades brings a fresh and joyful take on this genre. Billy Martin's signature drum style is there, but the tone is refreshingly different, which is remarkable for someone who has already done so much with the sonics of recording drums. I hope to see more from these guys!

Amazing Groove!

This album is chock-full of truly inspired playing by two extremely talented musicians, some of the best around on their instruments. Their connection and conversational playing are apparent from start to finish, and the vibe is deep and liquid, effortless playing that is always inventive and engaging, never relying on stock funk idioms or re-hashing. You can hear that these guys are having a great time and letting it all hang out, and it's a treat to be able to listen in on their musical conversations. It's impressive that a duo can have such a full sound, and such a range of sounds and vibes on these ten tracks.....if you like jazz, funk, and/or either of these musicians, do yourself a favor and get this now!!!


Born: October 30, 1963 in New York City, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

With a steady base as one-third of the renowned experimental jazz trio Medeski, Martin, & Wood, drummer Billy Martin has become one of the most forward-thinking, innovative, and influential percussionists in the music world. His ultra-sensitive, hyper-melodic drumming -- which explores the ideas of jazz, hip-hop, electronica, African music, and other genres -- has an organic feel to it, filled with soft, natural edges and fluid energies. Born in New York City in 1963, Martin was raised in a wholly...
Full Bio
Shimmy, Billy Martin
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Customer Ratings