Traversing the Borders Between Finnish Folk and Prog

Juha Kujanpää Ensemble - Tales and Travels ~ Kivenpyörittäjä
Juha Kujanpää Ensemble – Tales and Travels ~ Kivenpyörittäjä
Juha Kujanpää Ensemble

Tales and Travels – Kivenpyörittäjä (Kuu Records, 2013)

Tales and Travels is the first album by Finnish composer and keyboardist Juha Kujanpää. I review albums for world music and progressive rock websites and this is one of those great recordings that crosses boundaries and is hard to categorize. Juha Kujanpää demonstrates how to transition seamlessly from Nordic folk music into jazz and progressive rock. In this sense, he continues the outstanding tradition led by the late Pekka Pohjola and other Finnish musicians.

Juha Kujanpää composed and arranged all the material on Tales and Travels. You will find lovely folk-rooted polskas, echoes of tango and samba, and mesmerizing jazz and prog rock-infused pieces with notable electric guitar work by Timo Kämäräinen.

The album features some of the finest Finnish musicians in the folk/traditional, jazz and rock music scene. Line-up: Juha Kujanpää on keyboards; Timo Kämäräinen on guitar, mandolin; Tero Tuovinen on bass; Jussi Miettola on drums; Tommi Asplund on violin; Kukka Lehto on violin; Esko Järvelä on violin; Vesa Norilo on cello; Henri Haapakoski on flute, sax; Sami Kurppa on clarinet; Panu Sivonen on oboe, English horn; Henrik Sandås on bandoneon; Teija Niku on accordion; Verneri Pohjola on trumpet; and Markus Jaatinen on percussion.

Juha Kujanpää was born in 1974. He is an accomplished musician and composer who enjoys intersecting the musical boundaries between Finnish folk music, world music, jazz and rock. Kujanpää’s music has appeared recently on Kirjava lintu’s ‘Unilintu’ ( 2012); Isis-trio’s ‘The Legend of Birth’ (2011); and Karuna’s ‘Hyvää matkaa/Bon Voyage’ (2010).

Juha Kujanpää Ensemble‘s Tales and Travels is a splendid album with enthralling instrumental interplay, lavish textures and a wonderful interweaving of traditional Nordic music, rock and jazz.

The album is available from

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