Words by Audra Tracy

New York City – Billy Martin & Wil Blades got their Shimmy on at Sullivan Hall for their last stop of a mini-tour in support of the duo’s new album, which recently dropped via Royal Potato Family. Repping New York and California respectively, Martin (drums/percussion) and Blades (organ/clavinet) offered up a coastal collision of great American jazz.

Shimmy shares the improvisational sentiment of Martin’s previous work in the Brooklyn based jazz trio MMW; many of these new tracks were written on the spot in the studio. And being that this was the final show of the tour, Martin & Blades shared a comfortable chemistry as they stretched out the instrumentals for Friday night’s fans.


‘Pick Pocket’s infectiously bouncy melody caught on fast, sending shimmies through Sullivan Hall’s walls early in the set. The most psychedelic stop on the Martin/Blades tour was definitely the spacey, chilled-out ‘Deep in a Fried Pickle’, which was nicely complemented by swirling house lights. Martin’s drum-rolls boasted such a distinct echo on ‘Toe Thumb’, it’s like he was hitting the skins square in the gut with each and every beat.

While Martin’s name may be more recognizable in New York than his counterpart, Blades has built up his own street cred on the West Coast jamming with heavy hitters like Dr. Lonnie Smith. The self-taught tickler plays like an old soul, even though he’s probably younger than the Hammond B3 organ he manned on-stage.

The gig found the newest members of RPF re-energizing a genre that often hides on the fringe in small, dark nightclubs. The treat to shows like this is seeing strong, inventive jazz players like Martin literally mesmerize an entire room with just a tambourine. Moments in live music like this are a testament to the adage that it’s not about what instrument you play – it’s how you make it Shimmy.


TheWaster.com | RPF