RAOUL BJÖRKENHEIM is the best known and generally best guitarist in Finland. He has played with many interesting bands and musicians from the exiting world of improvised music. He became "famous" while working with Edward Vesala's Sound & Fury. Björkenheim plays on Edward Vesala's ECM album Lumi (Snow), and two other of Vesala's albums. Vesala was very important for the Finnish jazz scene, internationally acknowledged and known for always going his own way. Vesala unfortunately died on December 4th, 1999.
Raoul is perhaps best known for his work with Krakatau - his own band which often has changed personnel and every now and then been in hibernation. Krakatau is not working at the moment. Now Raoul leads Triad.
More interesting combinations & collaborations:
Roommushklaan (the early 80s) consisted of Raoul Björkenheim, Jone Takamäki, Antti Hytti and Tom Nekljudow.
Paul Schütze & Phantom City on one of my favorite albums Shiva Recoil. The album was recorded live at the Tampere Jazz Happening 1996. Raoul also worked with Schütze on Third Site (Rykodisc RCD 10464) which was released in 1999. It also features Simon Hopkins, Clive Bell and Thomas Koner.
Zot duo 1997 with Teppo Isopuro.
On the 26th of June, 1998 Raoul palyed with Avanti! at the Suvisoitto 1998 Festival in Porvoo performing Mark Anthony Turnage's Blood On The Floor. (Rehearsal pictures: click here). Raoul participated in a performance of the same composition in Tampere on the 3rd of November 2000 together with the Tampere Symphonic Orchestra led by Johan Storgårds.
Ekstasis: Warsaw Jazz Summer 1998, June 20th, Bill Laswell, Nicky Skopelitis, Raoul, Amina Claudine Myers & Co. Filmed but not yet seen, also probably broadcast on radio.
Revelator: The album Revelator by Nicky Skopelitis and Raoul Björkenheim is a great improvisational CD with four tracks created in Brooklyn under the production of Bill Laswell. Buy it if you find it - and LISTEN to it!
The Finnish UMO (Uuden Musiikin Orkesteri = New Music Orchestra) got four stars for it's album Electrifying Miles (A-Records AL-73153, released 1998) in the October 99 issue of Down Beat. Björkenheim arranged two of the compositions and plays on the album. Well worth a listen.
Some of Raoul's own compositions have been performed together with UMO. Unfortunately none have been released on record. For example, Primal Mind was played live in February 2000 for the second time after a 9 year pause. The big band composition was fortunately also broadcast later on Finnish Radio 1.
Finland's Swedish Television (FST) showed an interesting program on December 28th (1999) including Raoul Björkenheim playing his composition Situations together with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Johan Storgårds (also playing violin). Situations is an interesting piece showing the influences from avant-garde classical to eastern moods. It brought me thoughts of John Cage, Piirpauke and Page & Plant(!)...
Markus Ketola and Raoul Björkenheim Duo: Räätälit (Tailors) broadcast July 17, 2000 by Finnish Radio 1 (Yle1).