Any music lover who relished Billy Martin's collaboration with John Medeski, Mago
, will not only anticipate the master percussionist's self-produced work with Wil Blades, but be eminently satisfied with it as well.
Apropos the album title, this is less cerebral than that 2007 work and even more accessible. For instance, "Brother Bru" is all quick, tight stops and rapid unfurling of Hammond B3 organ in and out of snappy beats. The chemistry Martin and Blades discovered on their impromptu meeting at NOLA in 2001 was no illusion: each anticipates the other's movements with uncanny precision and clearly both love to dig into a groove, but, as they demonstrate on "Mean Greens," it's not just a matter of repetition, but progressively intricate interaction.
Billy Martin and Wil Blades are too savvy to ignore the dynamics of their partnership. Thus, "Deep in a Fried Pickle" slows things down, relatively speaking, allowing the former to percolate alongside the latter. "Pick Pocket" continues in that vein, albeit at a more brisk pace, the first real indication of the growing momentum within this track sequencing; reminiscent of the opening tracks, "Les and Eddie" doesn't so much mark time as allow the duo to shift gears before accelerating further.
Martin and Blades whip through the traditional "Down by the Riverside," as a means of catching their collective breath in anticipation of ratcheting up the intensity of this affair with the fiery likes of "Toe Thumb." Blades' clavinet has become his primary instrument at this point in the roughly forty-seven minute album and this instrumental shift is a necessary and sufficient move to alleviate any predictability as the ten compact tracks unfold.
Likewise, "Give" is a languorous number positioned as the next-to-last cut on Shimmy
, seemingly a setup for yet another high-velocity funk workout. Instead, Martin and Blades close ever so quietly --and unexpectedly-- with the one-minute plus likes of "Dena Hunu." A graceful, subdued climax, it serves the purpose of allowing the listener to reflect upon how much style and soul this pair just conjured up.