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Juha Kujanpää: Kivenpyörittäjä (Tales And Travels)

A fine prog/jazz/folk/rock hybrid from Finland.

Although blending traditional music with modern idioms is nothing new, such projects are interesting in the way they create new hybrids and intriguing offspring. Keyboard player Kujanpää leads a quartet of bass, drums and guitar through an instrumental suite of interlocking themes that in part draws upon Nordic folk tales for their inspiration.

Augmented by a small chamber ensemble, the Finnish equivalent of jigs and reels are both mercurial and sturdy, complementing the jazz-rock-like vocabulary of the writing. Together they form an intricate but forceful narrative. What soloing there is tends to be concise, with Kujanpää’s scores keeping players pretty much on top of the principal themes, though Verneri Pohjola’s trumpet slips free on Different Polska.

The neo-baroque ornamentation of Iceland Water moves from courtly beginnings into a gently rocking piece, wherein Timo Kämäräinen’s lead guitar suggest both Jan Akkerman and Mike Oldfield’s warmth and fluency.

The longing sway of Nights Of July, where Teija Niku’s plaintive accordion blends into the sound of faraway church bells, provides the album’s moving highlight.