Behind the Curtains (Seacrest Oy, 2011)
Behind the Curtains is the second album by Finnish prog band Paidarion. The group combines progressive rock with jazz fusion and traditional jazz-infused ballads.
Paidarion is known for its virtuoso instrumentalists. The band was formed in 2006 with musicians from two well-known progressive music bands in Finland: Mist Season and Progression.
Electric bass plays an important role throughout Behind the Curtains with attention-grabbing solos on tracks 1, 6, 8 and 10. Most of the bass parts are played by bass maestro Jan-Olof Strandberg (from the band Progression) although Behind the Curtains features a guest appearance by renowned American bassist Michael Manring, who plays two solos.
The guitarist on the album is Jaan Jaanson, who showcases his fine technique with guitar solos throughout the album. Elina Hautakoski is the lead female singer in the tracks that feature vocals. She has an excellent smoky voice that would feel at home singing the blues and traditional jazz. At times, her vocals feel a little awkward within the fusion context.
The drummer is Kimmo Pörsti, who is able to switch easily from subtle jazz to fiery rock style drumming.
Skillful horn master Risto Salmi plays tenor and soprano solos.
Album highlights include the instrumental ‘Behind the Curtains’; ‘A Small Wish’ with its dual vocals and series of guitar, bass and sax solos; another instrumental titled ‘Trapeze’ which has more of a progressive rock rather than fusion; the longest cut titled ‘A Vertical Rope’ with a fusion feel and another serpentine collection of solos; the organ fugue meets galloping prog rock of ‘A Leap Into the Unknown’; fusion piece ‘Paidarion’; and the last track titled ‘The Final Show’ with a beautiful violin solo that transitions to jazz fusion-infused melodies on bass, saxophone and electric guitar.