the Gentle Insult is the thought-provoking title of the new release from composer, producer and keyboard player Edgar van Asselt. This colourful, high-energy album contains nine brand new compositions fusing jazz, Latin, pop and classical music into a warm sounding record. Joined by acclaimed musicians Jeroen Vierdag on bass and Jorge Rossy on drums and vibes, Van Asselt produced an album influenced by absurdism, surrealism and the use of ‘rogue semantics’.
Van Asselt considers his album ‘an outside-the-box, absurdist musical response in confusing times’. A colourful variety of things inspired him to the song titles, such as the stellar quote ‘I Love it When a Plan Comes Together’ from the epic 80’s series ‘The A-Team’. The viral media presence of billionaire tycoon Bill Gates made him ponder what the sound would be of ‘Bill at the Gates’. And when taking a break, he laid on his back and observed the ‘Madness of the Clouds’.
‘Captain Cartel’ gets things underway with a nice jaunty melody on the fender Rhodes before switching to the piano for something more driven accompanied by a great bass line, and crisp drumming from Jorge Rossy. ‘Madness of Clouds’ (see video at the end of this post) perfectly captures the act of watching clouds, the sound is soft, spacious and straddles that border between jazz and classical music worlds – a delightful number to get lost in. The tonal palette shifts completely for ‘Resurrection at The Intersection’ with its boppish driven piano lines and pulsing bass lines. Jorge Rossy takes an extended drum solo, stops time and then the whole thing picks up the central musical theme but with a change in style. The blend of themes here is great fun and there is that touch of absurdism that Edgar references as one of his influences.
‘Kind Man (for Chick)’ is a very well-paced bluesy number played out on the fender Rhodes. Nothing is hurried here, including Jeroen Vierdag’s rounded bass lines that hang in the air before the next note is plucked. ‘Incluition’ blends the lyrical with the angular to good effect and settles on neither as the main style. I enjoyed this track, its variations in tonal colour and tempo delivered effortlessly and with elan. ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ features Jorge Rossy on vibes and he really does sound as if he belongs there. The piano accompaniment is wonderfully classic jazz in style and Jeroen Vierdag anchors the track with his bass playing giving that additional tonal depth that contrast nicely against the vibraphone.
The album’s title track, and the final two tracks that follow, were described to me as having “a radio friendly jazz/pop vibe”, which I think undersells them. ‘the Gentle Insult’ links back to the tail end of ‘Resurrection at The Intersection’ with a whistling theme that is catchy and in some ways reminds me of Shogu Tokumaru’s album Port Entropy. However, between the almost childlike theme referred to there is something heavier, a more pulsing beat driven sound before the a melodic keyboard line comes to the fore. I like the structure of this number, which packs a lot into its four and half minute length. ‘Bill at the Gates’ has a warm after-club feel to it, the tune gently meandering to its conclusion in style. The final number is a clear reference to The A-Team television series but does not have the energy I associate BA Baracus et al – but perhaps that is the point, subverting expectations. Nevertheless, the styling does fit in with rest of the album and had it not done so I think I would have been disappointed.
the Gentle Insult is a very good album that held my attention from start to finish. I enjoyed the blending of styles, the balance of the approach to the material and, of course, the playing. Edgar van Asselt has written nine very good tunes that work very well side by side and he chose his musical companions wisely as they sound like they understood the plan and executed it with awareness and insight.
the Gentle Insult is available from Bandcamp now.
Musicians: Edgar van Asselt -piano, fender rhodes, VST’s, whistles; Jeroen Vierdag – bass; Jorge Rossy – drums, vibes on ‘Smokes and Mirrors’.
Tracklist: 1. Captain Cartel. 2. Madness of the Clouds. 3. Resurrection at the Intersection. 4. Kind Man (for Chick). 5. Incluition. 6. Smokes and Mirrors. 7. the Gentle Insult. 8. Bill at the Gates. 9. I Love it When A Plan Comes Together.