Dutch composer, producer and keyboard player Edgar van Asselt released his latest album “The Gentle Insult” on the 13th of January 2023. Joined by Jeroen Vierdag on bass and Jorge Rossy on drums and vibes, this set contains 9 tracks all composed by the trio’s leader, Edgar van Asselt and is now available on CD and LP (Via Bandcamp) and all of the major streaming and download platforms.
Asselt describes the album as an “outside-the-box, absurdist musical response in confusing times”. Out of the box yes, but absurdist, I’m not so sure. On first listening, the album appears quite mainstream however as one digs deeper into the many layers on the album, the listener will find a plethora of unusual musical idea’s all performed extremally well. This is quite an art in itself as it opens up the set to a wide range of listeners, there is something here for everyone. I particularly liked the extended soundscapes presented on the album giving it a more a contemporary sound than a straight piano trio album. Asselt uses a wide range of sounds in the keyboards and adding to this, Jorge Rossy also provides a number of contributions on Vibraphone. In addition, the subtle use of samples plays a role in creating a soundscape that is far greater than provided by the forces at hand. I must note that this is all done with a great degree of subtly and it would take a seasoned listener to be able to lay the finger on these passages.
When listening to the album, it somewhat took me back to those classic CTI releases of the late 1970’s and I in no way mean this in a derogatory fashion. It’s not just the extensive use of the Rhodes or the synth sounds, it’s also the subtle infusion of the melodic ideas and the sounds assigned to them that conjure up this comparison. Take for instance the return of the melody in “Resurrection at the Intersection” or the theme from “Smokes and Mirrors”. Another nod to that 1970’s style of production is the use of the fade-out on a number of the tracks.
Most of the tracks range between 4 and 5 minutes with the exception of “Madness of the Clouds” that clocks in at 6:25. This leaves little room for extended solos, however, this is one of the many strengths of this album. Asselts compositions are extremally well conceived and the arrangements well thought out and the balance between the through-composed passages and the improvised solos is superb.
So now let’s take a look at some specific tracks. Personally I found one of the many highlights this album embodies is “Madness of the Clouds”. In the press release accompanying the album, Edgar explained that a “colorful variety of things inspired him to write the song titles.” And yes, the titles on the album are also “Out of the Box.”. Madness of the Clouds was inspired by the line “And when taking a break he laid on his back and observed the Madness of the Clouds. This adds some necessary visualization when you listen to the track. It’s extremally ethereal in nature and performed with a traditional piano trio setting with Edgar taking the cue from a classical concerto and providing use with en extended cadenza before the bass and drums renter for the final chords to take it out. What a wonderful piece, love it.
Another of my highlights is “Resurrection at the Intersection”. This track is largely a feature for piano and drums, Jorge Rossy provides a short but quite intense drum solo complete with a tension building pregnant pause bookended by two piano solos, the first in piano, the second on Rhodes. The tracks melodic hook returns regularly throughout however almost always in an unexpected place. Also with this track I enjoyed the way the solo’s launched at a non-related tempo adding to the sense of urgency.
Other tracks of note are “Kind Man (for Chick)”, obviously an ode to Chick Corea and “Smokes and Mirrors” featuring Rossy on vibraphone. While both these arrangements are fairly straight ahead, the exceptional musicianship carries these to the next level.
Closing out the album is “I Love it When a Plan Comes Together”, obviously a nod to the 80’s TV series “The A Team”. This track opens with a theme that appropriately would be at home as the theme song for a 1980’s TV series, however this opens up quite quickly into a straight 4 feel. There’s a lot going on here between Rossy and bassist Jeroen Vierda adding a lot of interest in the accompaniment. I always like an album the closes with the track that leaves the listener with something to think about and this fits the bill perfectly.
The performances on this album are exceptional throughout and this is what you would expect from musicians of this caliber. Add to the the sonic quality of the recording making in my opinion “A Gentle Insult” an album that should take pride of place on any jazz lovers playlist. Highly Recommended.
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. Gentle Insult | 8. Bill at the Gates | 9. I Love it When a Plan Comes Together
Edgar van Asselt, Piano Fender Rhodes, VST’s | Jeroen Vierdag, bass | Jorge Rossy, Drums & Vibraphone
Release Date: 13 January 2023
Format: CD | LP | Digital
Label: Independent Release
New Release Spotify Playlist
The Jazz In Europe New Release playlist features tracks from the new releases featured on Jazz In Europe. Updated weekly, this playlist is the perfect place to discover new music from the leading jazz musicians currently on the scene. We hope you enjoy this selection.
Last modified: September 10, 2023