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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 love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.