Impromptu pairing bears fruit for Martin-Blades Duo (playing Underground Arts on 1/18)

An unexpected gig in the jazz scene can define a lineup. Impromptu sit-ins or sessions that seem as though they’re just for a night can be all that’s necessary to make some of the tightest improv music to come out.

That’s how it went for the Billy Martin and Wil Blades Duo. Martin, the drummer of the pair, was out west promoting his Life on Drums DVD when we he got an opportunity to play two nights with Blades at the Boom Boom Room in San Francisco with almost no advance notice. They didn’t have any music prepared, nothing rehearsed. The same was the case for their second gig, the New Orleans Jazz Festival in 2011.

“Everything we’ve done so far has been pretty impromptu,” says organist Wil Blades during a phone call from his Bay area home. “When we played Jazz Fest we really had a chemistry. There was never any time to prepare, we just go up and play some old soul tunes or other stuff that I’d play.”

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