In fact, it’s hard to tell how large a “Force” is with him, so completely does Zelenka dominate the proceedings. It could be a quartet or quintet, as there are definitely a piano and bass, and brief solos by alto and tenor saxophones, which could be one member of the group doubling. We heard no trumpet or trombone, but they could have been engulfed by the general uproar. There’s one more vocal, on “Tupelo Honey,” that doesn’t sound like Zelenka (not that we know what he sounds like, but we’re assuming he’s the vocalist elsewhere).
In spite of his omnipresence, Zelenka doesn’t solo often, taking his most prolonged excursion on the fast-paced closing number, “Brezz’s Jamout.” The effusive liner notes say he has been compared to Gene Krupa, Sandy Nelson and Buddy Rich—fast company indeed—but the sound quality on Dig This is so shabby and unbalanced that any reasonable attempt to appraise Zelenka’s true ability is useless.
On the plus side, Zelenka and The Force have their say and move on; the album’s playing time is only 32:15, and almost every second is full of sound and fury, if not captivating Jazz. In fact, as the play list confirms, Zelenka and The Force are more into nouveau swing/R&B than straight-ahead jazz. There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t expect to hear Brubeck or the Miles Davis Quintet.
Track Listing: Dig This; Sing, Sing, Sing; Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; Route 66; Night Train; Georgia; Kansas City; Tupelo Honey; Summertime; Brezz
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