Who needs a drummer, anyway? Not Sarah Marie Young. It's a certainty that the Chicago-based vocalist has nothing personal against drummers, but despite the absence of drums and percussion on Expressive, the rhythmic intensity, drive and energy they normally bring to the music are certainly not lacking.
Expressive's tracks demonstrate considerable variety, from tempo to time signature to style. "Goodbye To You and Me," a loping jazz waltz, features Young's sensitive and relaxed swing feel, while her pinpoint accurate Portuguese propels the quick-paced Brazilian tune, "O Pato." Throughout, Young strikes a beautiful balance between Gretchen Parlato's controlled nuance and Jimmy Rushing's full-throated hollering.
Young's rhythm section is a substantial part of why these selections gel together so well, laying into a particularly deep groove on "Winter Song." Often times laying a backdrop, the members of the trio do take turns in the spotlight, with guitarist Rob Block standing out. In addition, pianist Tom Vaitsas saves "Amazing Grace" from becoming a cursory appeal to popular nationalism, instead turning it into a serious set-closer.
Young's voice and her percussion-less rhythm section reach a level of propulsion not achieved by many groups with a drummer. It will be intriguing to see if Young includes drums or percussion in her future recording projects.
Goodbye To You and Me; O Pato; Born To Be Blue; Autumn Nocturne;
Winter Song; Amazing Grace.
Sarah Marie Young: vocals; Rob Block: guitar, Tom Vaitsas: piano, organ;
Matt Young: bass.
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