Release date: September 15, 2023 / October 6, 2023
Label: Motéma Music
Rising Sun is the debut album by Munich-based pianist and composer Shuteen Erdenebaatar. At just 25, this rising star from Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, is leading three world class ensembles and has accumulated an impressive array of important prizes for young musicians on the European jazz scene including the Kurt Maas Jazz Award, the Music Scholarship of the City of Munich, the Young Munich Jazz Prize, the Biberach Jazz Prize and the BMW Young Artist Jazz Award. With the release of Rising Sun, Motéma ushers this bright new talent onto the world stage, as backed by her impressive and dedicated young quartet.
The daughter of Batkhuyag Ochirbat, a television director and journalist, and Erdenebaatar Gombo, who recently earned the title “The Emeritus of Art” for his 40 years as director of the National Mongolian Opera, Shuteen was brought up surrounded by arts and culture - particularly classical music. Accordingly, she studied classical piano and classical composition at the State Conservatory of Ulaanbaatar before coming into contact with jazz through a program at the Goethe Institute. This “jazz lab” under the direction of Martin Zenker turned out to be a pivotal moment. "It was then that a whole new world opened up to me," she says. "Suddenly I had the freedom to play what I heard in my heart, not just what was written in the notes.” With her bachelors degree in hand at age 20, she yearned to explore the world of jazz, and as there were no jazz programs in Mongolia at the time, she eventually came to study at the conservatory in Munich. Mentored by Gregor Hübner, Christian Elsässer, Tizian Jost and Andreas Kissenbeck among others, Erdenebaatar earned masters degrees in Jazz Performance and Composition, and most importantly was able to find and cultivate her own artistic voice.
That voice is undeniably present on Rising Sun. Whether on the lilting and lyrical opener “In A Time Warp” (released June 23 as an instant grat single), the rhythmically challenging burner "Ups And Downs", the melancholic-dramatic solo piece "Summer Haze" or the climactic, nostalgia-fueled "Olden Days", Erdenebaatar’s singular approach stands front and center. The rest of Rising Sun includes the dramaturgically ingenious “An Answer From A Distant Hill” (carried by a beguiling flute melody); the powerful, blues-soaked title track, which takes cues from a Mongolian folk song; the touching ballad “Saudade;” and the surprising love song “I’m Glad I Got To Know You”, on which the rising pianist and her quartet really step on the gas.
Erdenebaatar’s classical foundation is unmistakable throughout, displayed by her technical brilliance, stylistic finesse, and the thematic structure of her compositions. Enriched by expressive harmonies and rhythm variability, Erdenebaatar’s memorable melodies serve as a framework for her formidable band to stretch out. The quartet consists of a German cadre of fellow players from her university cohort, all now award-winning rising stars and bandleaders in their own right. Bassist Nils Kugelmann, whom Southern Germany’s leading daily paper The Süddeutsche Zeitung named “one of the best in his field”, is a rhythmically and melodically outstanding all-rounder, who also shines with moving arco work on Erdenebaatar’s “Saudade”. Drummer Valentin Renner is one of Germany’s busiest jazz drummers, currently the backbone of several notable jazz ensembles in the country. Finally, the creative and highly virtuosic Anton Mangold rounds out the ensemble on saxophones and flutes. The quartet’s charismatic interplay is a highlight of the album . "It helped me a lot to know everyone well. I already had in mind who was playing each part when I was composing,” Erdenebaatar shares.
The quartet recorded Rising Sun on December 27 & 28, 2021, at the Realistic Sound Studio in Munich, soon after taking part in “Jazz Summer Week” at the internationally renowned Unterfahrt Jazz club. During this week, the quartet had the opportunity to work out the program in front of an audience for five nights straight. Thus, unlike most of today’s youthful productions, the album was not created before, but rather following their live experience of the material, a difference that lends a powerful soulful connectivity to their already distinctive sound.
Rising Sun is a startlingly mature debut from a remarkable new talent. Erdenebaatar’s release on Motéma Music comes during the label’s 20th anniversary celebrations this Fall. Label founder and president Jana Herzen discovered Shuteen through a cold submmission. "Frankly, it's very rare that I have time to listen to unsolicited projects, but somehow Shuteen's email caught my eye. That she was Mongolian intrigued me and her beautiful smile led me to listen. Moved by what I heard, and seeing her many accomplishments, I recognized a new contemporary jazz master on the rise, and thought she was a perfect addition to our 20th Anniversary season.” Motéma is honored to introduce this debut, and also to work with Shuteen towards upcoming releases for her "Lightville" duo, and Chamber Jazz Orchestra albums which are both in development.”
"I recognised a new contemporary jazz master on the rise, and thought she was a perfect addition to our 20th anniversary season,” says Motéma Music label head Jana Herzen. No wonder because 'In A Time Warp' has that stand-out-a-mile in the crowd factor." Read full review here.
CONTEMPORARY FUSION REVIEWS
"What truly stands out in Shuteen’s playing is the persuasive power with which she plays… I found myself listening over and over (and OVER) again to all 8 of the tunes she created, and I believe you will sit in awe, just as I did." Read full review here.