Azerbaijani saxophonist/composer Rain Sultanov has long drawn inspiration from his country’s rich culture and stunning landscapes. On Inspired by Nature—Sultanov’s eighth release as leader—the saxophonist toggles between lyrical balladry and passionate exposition as he takes Azerbaijan’s nature as his muse. And it has been an epic venture. With a band of trusted musicians, Sultanov led an expedition around Azerbaijan, recording the natural sounds they encountered in the great mountains, by the Caspian Sea and on the flat plains. These recordings and impressions were then transported to Jan Erik Kongshaug’s Rainbow Studio in Oslo and musically shaped by Sultanov under the guidance of the legendary sound engineer. The result is music that is never less than engaging, and that at its best, exhibits haunting beauty.