A Well-plowed Field. If jazz was farming, A Little More Than The Blues would be a fertile field producing the same crop in high yield and of high quality, year in and year out. Altoist Jeff Zelnick does not break any new ground here, but he does offer the listener a very pleasant listen to some very well-crafted, bop-oriented jazz. Fronting a classic Reed/Brass quintet, Zelnick uses a friendly, full tone complimented by trumpeter Valery Ponomarev’s conservative, well-trained delivery to provide a late 50s — early 60s style of jazz in the late 90s. Zelnick’s effort makes me think of the resurgence of using tube amplifiers in playing Chicago blues music — the desire to capture that warm period sound. On A Little More Than The Blues, Jeff Zelnick perfects 1960s jazz period practice in the same way that Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music did with Baroque and Classical repertoires.
The Heart of the Matter. All of Zelnick’s compositions are vintage Hard, Post Bop Fare. The title track recalls the complex blues heads of Oliver Nelson on his great recordings. All of the songs, save “C’est Si Bon” are Zelnick originals and betray a thorough understanding of the Adderley Brothers, Lee Morgan, Kenny Dorman, Jackie McLean, Art Blakey, etc. On the whole, A Little More Than The Blues is a very enjoyable recording, but nothing new.
Track Listing: Ten; Let Me Ask You This; C'est Si Bon; Joanna's Sweet smile; A Little More Than the Blues; When then Was Now; There, There! (Total Playing Time 53:23).
Personnel: Jeff Zelnich: Alto Saxophone; Valery Ponomarev: Trumpet; Alan Rosenthal: Piano; Steve Doyle: Bass; Eric Halvorson: Drums.