Bjorkenheim, Raoul - Ecstasy
"Björkenheim has been well regarded since his 1980s work...but his recent releases have been particularly memorable." – Stereophile
Guitarist and composer Raoul Björkenheim emerged from Finland in the 80s with Edward Vesala's band, then started his own group, Krakatau, who recorded for ECM and Cuneiform.
He is probably best known for his work with Scorch Trio and with Bill Laswell and Morgan Agren in Blixt, but he has been a busy, active player for the last 30 years. As anyone who has every seen him can attest, he is one of the great, unheralded guitarists of our time.
Ecstasy is his new electric, ecstatic jazz band, which features some of the younger talents on the Finnish jazz scene and which was designed to be an ensemble that will regularly go out and tour. The group consists of Raoul, Pauli Lyytinen (saxophones), Jori Huhtala (contrabass) and Markku Ounaskari (drums) in a repertory of original compositions painting swirling polyrhythms with a free-tonal palette.
With influences ranging from Korean and African music to contemporary chamber music, new jazz and free rock, Ecstasy's mission is to elevate its audiences with their high energy and dedication to adventurous sound.
"The band name Ecstasy refers to a music that is so fluid and intelligible that it flows around and past obstacles, and attains the listener by surprise and joy. The listener finds himself outside of his self, transported. I firmly believe that music does have a mission to elevate the spirit, to remind the listener about the ecstasy of being alive. I'd love our band to play so much together that we'd be able to communicate on a high level of ESP, and make our group interplay truly virtuosic in the positive meaning of that word. Then we could communicate to any audience, regardless of whether "jazz", "rock" or 'contemporary.'" – Raoul Björkenheim
Ecstasy brings together new and established names from the Finnish scene into a compact powerhouse of an ensemble.
You can see a snippet of one of the group's live performances, doing a live version of one of the pieces on the album here