"Björkenheim has been well regarded since his 1980s work...but his recent releases have been particularly memorable."
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.
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".
Ecstasy brings together new and established names from the Finnish scene into a compact powerhouse of an ensemble.
released January 21, 2014
Raoul Björkenheim: electric guitar
Pauli Lyytinen: saxophones & kalimba
Jori Huhtala: contrabass
Markku Ounaskari: drums
Music by Raoul Björkenheim except tracks 3, 5, 7 by eCsTaSy.
Recorded at Finnvox studio, Helsinki, December 11-13, 2012.
Recorded and mixed by Risto Hemmi.
Mastered by Pauli Saastamoinen.
Photos by Stefan Bremer.
Cover design by Amelia Harrington.
So,so pleased and gratified to see Henry's Pi Recordings on BC!
He is, without exception, one of the most visionary and extraordinary composers of the 20th/21st Century, in my humble view...I have listened to him for decades (the Mosaic Box Set is an essential experience) and his current band, Zooid is very important, I think (but then, he doesn't need my approbation; I listen with old ears)...if you don't know his work then listen to anything/everything you can get your hands on...
His musical acumen astounds me...this new album is no exception...recommended; body and soul... John Cratchley
I really appreciate that with such a large group of musicians the overall sound and experience of listening is really spacious, never cluttered. The lovely recording helps that a lot, and of course the compositional aspects that make it breathe are superb- it gets more and more fun as I listen again and again. Jasper Skydecker