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Shuteen Erdenebaatar Quartet: Rising Sun

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Shuteen Erdenebaatar Quartet: Rising Sun
When a debut album comes along with a cracking opening track, one can only hope that there are later tracks which can get near the same level. Fortunately, that proves to be the case with Rising Sun, the debut album from Mongolian pianist Shuteen Erdenebaatar and her quartet. With a father who spent 40 years as director of the National Mongolian Opera, it was natural for Erdenebaatar to be surrounded by the arts. She studied classical piano and composition in Ulaanbaatar, before coming into contact with jazz through a program at the Goethe Institute. She moved to Munich to continue her studies, earning a master's degree and several awards.

Her quartet consists of fellow students from the university who have all since gone on to establish themselves on the German jazz scene. Often albums are recorded before being taken on tour but, in this case, Erdenebaatar's quartet had the opportunity to explore the tracks in front of a club audience for five nights and it has paid off. The arrangements and interplay are all tightly honed and connected. Making major contributions and offering far more than support, the quartet consists of Anton Mangold on saxophones and flute, drummer Valentin Renner and bassist Nils Kugelmann.

The opening track is the undulating "In a Time Warp"; Kugelmann's bass solo sets up cascading piano notes which surge and build the tension before Mangold's soprano saxophone joins to close the melody. It is an ideal way to grab attention and open a debut album. The furious opening of "Ups and Downs" is in complete contrast, Renner's inventive drumming along with Kugelmann's authoritative bass keep the rhythms changing and moving under fast piano and sax improvisations. Erdenebaatar then shows her deftness of touch, together with her classical roots, on the wistful "Summer Haze." A gentle alto saxophone leads into the sentimental "Olden Days," before gradually picking up the tempo.

In another stand-out, saxophonist Mangold proves just as adept on the flute on "An Answer from a Distant Hill." leading the folky melody before increasing speed and fluidity as the rhythms move between rock and jazz. Erdenebaatar joins with a furious solo before the melody returns. The dynamic title track takes influences from both the blues and a Mongolian folk melody, and builds into a powerful statement via sax and piano improvisations. A neat arco bass leads into "Saudade," with piano and bass solos suggesting melancholy and longing. An appealing piano introduction leads in to the concluding "I'm Glad I Got to Know You." The saxophone plays a bittersweet romantic melody before a bass solo leads into the finale.

A notable debut that exceeds expectations at every level. Erdenebaatar wrote all the material, as well as arranging and producing. No doubt helped by her in-depth knowledge of the musicians she was writing for, the combinations and interplay with the quartet are original and resourceful. Mangold commands attention throughout, Renner and Kugelmann are adept in anchoring and expressive in their moments and Erdenebaatar enjoys her freedom with an exciting and expressive performance. Highly Recommended.

Track Listing

In a Time Warp; Ups and Downs; Summer Haze; Olden Days; An Answer from a Distant Hill; Rising Sun; Saudade; I’m Glad I Got to Know You.

Personnel

Anton Mangold
saxophone, alto
Nils Kugelmann
bass, acoustic
Additional Instrumentation

Anton Mangold: soprano sax (1, 2), alto sax (4, 6-8), flute (5).

Album information

Title: Rising Sun | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Motéma Music


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