Billy Martin & Wil Blades | SPACE | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Billy Martin & Wil Blades Recommended All Ages Agenda Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard

When: Tue., Nov. 27, 8 p.m. 2012

Drummer Billy Martin is best known as one-third of Medeski Martin & Wood, but on the recent Shimmy (Royal Potato Family) he partners with Hammond B-3 maestro Wil Blades, a native of Evanston now based in the Bay Area, and applies his heavy, shuffling grooves to music that's more straightforward and less jammy than most of MMW's output. The duo splits the difference between greasy organ blues and streamlined, Larry Young-style postbop, with beats that lean toward hard funk more than buoyant swing. The two of them jack up the Eddie Harris tune "Mean Greens," translating the original's acoustic soul-jazz swagger into an overdriven blur, with Blades's furious bass-pedal work complementing Martin's multidirectional barrage. The Blades original "Les and Eddie" underlines their devotion to the brand of gospelized, soul-driven jazz that McCann and Harris made famous (doing so without the signifying organ), and a raucous spin on the spiritual "Down by the Riverside" lays bare Martin's love for New Orleans second-line rhythms. On several tracks Blades uses his left hand to play swelling chords on the Hammond while his right improvises biting, wah-wah-kissed lines on a Clavinet, and his solos are always fun despite their meticulous architecture. No matter which tack the duo takes, they can get bodies moving—and they never settle for typical jam-band fare. —Peter Margasak

Price: $15-$25

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