Brezz Zelenka calls himself “the world’s fastest drummer.” a claim that lends itself to no impartial form of measurement. On the other hand, if one were to calibrate Zelenka’s drumming on Dig This in terms of decibels, he’d be right up there with the most tumultuous of timekeepers. Not entirely his fault, as the emphasis (and the microphone) is focused unwaveringly on Zelenka’s ever-active drum kit, which easily overshadows everyone in his back-up group, The Force. With the exception of Zelenka’s voice (we assume that’s Brezz singing on “Route 66,” “Georgia,” “Kansas City” and “Summertime“), his cymbals and snare drum are far and away the group’s most clamorous components.
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.
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr. Garner, I love playing the piano... is there any advice you could give me?'' He hesitated, then looked back at me and said, Keep playin' and don't stop!'' That was great advice because at 60 years old, I'm still playin' and haven't stopped!