Björkenheim, Raoul / Ecstasy - Out Of The Blue
"I...was stunned by his Hendrix meets late era Coltrane approach." – Guitar Moderne
"Despite the boilingly hot drive...influenced by Cream, Lifetime, the Jimi Hendrix Experience (and perhaps more notionally the Pete Cosey/Reggie Lucas version of the Miles Davis group), there's a lyrical side to the guitarist’s playing as well...Excellent." – Point Of Departure
"...out jazz with lots of sass and vigor...recalls the thornier side of the ECM Records catalog, especially the works of fellow Scandinavians Edward Vesala and Terje Rypdal. Björkenheim attacks the guitar the way the late great Sonny Sharrock did - like Coltrane and Ayler “attacked” their saxophones...yet blues is never very far away. There’s also the chunky focus of pre-Mahavishnu John McLaughlin...The way RB cross-pollinates between jazz and rock recalls fellow traveler Nels Cline, and the results are similar: Oblique swing, gnarly noise, predictably unpredictable, swell." – Icon
Ecstasy is usually an all too fleeting experience offering the briefest glimpse at transcendence. But a heightened sense of consciousness and discovery manifests throughout Out of the Blue, the transporting second album by composer and guitar maestro Raoul Björkenheim and his extraordinary Finnish quartet Ecstasy.
Featuring the celebrated drummer Markku Ounaskari, the young and dauntingly prolific bassist Jori Huhtala and saxophonist Pauli Lyytinen, Ecstasy has forged more than a signature sound. Over the course of five years the musicians have honed a supremely interactive modus operandi marked by unstable textures, rapidly shifting meters, and emotionally charged melodic flights. Earthy, pristine and unmistakably Nordic, the music evokes the grandeur of Finnish landscapes and the hothouse intimacy of a tight-knit Helsinki scene where the musicians regularly convene to refine their volatile sound.
“I always felt there’s something special about having a band,” Björkenheim says. “An all-star session can be good too, but the thing I’m missing nowadays in jazz is really good bands playing together tightly, turning on a dime together, and especially improvising together.” True to Raoul's statement, this is a band effort, and like all great bands, the sum is greater than the parts. With 2 years additional experience together for this album, everything is upped from the last one: the compositions, the improvisations, the ensemble work and the solos!