Thousand-year-old Mongolian music traditions meet folk and jazz on Squama Recordings’ latest.
An undeniable magic inhabits the melodies and sounds of our youth. Lullabies, folk songs, the music of our parents, the natural sounds of home: They stick with us, forever burned into our subconscious. Mongolian jazz vocalist Enji Erkhem knows this well. The singer grew up in a yurt in Ulaanbaatar to a working-class family that loved to sing. She recalls, “I was the youngest daughter and my parents worked from sunrise to sunset. As a little girl, I used to sit at the entrance of our yurt for many hours, humming to myself.”
Enji’s latest album, Ursgal, which means flowing, is an intimate reflection on those days. Accompanied by Paul Brändle on guitar and Munguntovch Tsolmonbayar on double bass, Enji blends jazz and folk with traditional Mongolian melodies, forming a direct link between the sounds of her past and present. Jazz standards, Mongolian urtiin duu (long song), and original compositions come together in a perfect, minimalist trio format (no drums!) that allows Enji’s airy vocals to flow freely over the harmonic space set by Brändle and Tsolmonbayar. It’s a beautiful and deeply moving listen, made even sweeter by Enji’s lyrics, which speak to “the oddness of being on earth and the simple truths in life.”
Flowing swirling water
It stares and whispers
Pour your words generously
Pre-listen to Ursgal in its entirety below courtesy of our friends at Squama Recordings.