Exposé Online banner

Raoul Björkenheim / Ecstasy — Out of the Blue
(Cuneiform Rune 413, 2015, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2015-12-15

Out of the Blue Cover art

Over the last few years, I’ve grown increasingly disillusioned with most of what passes for jazz these days. Given the monumental achievements of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and the rest, it seems obvious to me that the reason that music was great was because the musicians had something original to say, or an original way of saying what they meant. To listen to current players repeating the ideas of the innovators just seems pointless. This is a feeling that waxes and wanes, and I wouldn’t entirely rule out enjoying something from near the mainstream, but I’d much rather hear someone trying something new. Case in point: Raoul Björkenheim and his band Ecstasy. I love their self-titled debut from 2014, and this new effort is right up there with it in quality without rehashing the same stuff. The personnel remains unchanged, with Björkenheim on guitar, Pauli Lyytinen on tenor and soprano sax, Jori Huhtala on acoustic bass, and Markku Ounaskari on drums. Some examples of something new on this outing are the strange noises on “A Fly in the House of Love” (maybe prepared guitar) and the blazing slide playing on “Uptown.” Once again, they keep the tracks relatively concise, with most under six minutes, though they mix it up with the closer, “Zebra Dreams,” at just a hair over ten. It starts with quick muted guitar notes a little reminiscent of a kalimba, then brings in a quick but quiet five-beat rhythm on the drums. It’s the kind of piece that ebbs and flows rather than having composed climaxes, and the African tinge gives it a different flavor that what they’ve done before. All in all, Out of the Blue is one of my favorite new releases in jazz this year, consistently interesting and never predictable.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Raoul Björkenheim

More info
http://cuneiformrecords.bandcamp.com/album/out-of-the-blue

Latest news

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Wendy Carlos - Switched-On Bach & The Well-Tempered Synthesizer – Given the limitations of the synthesizers available in 1968, the choice of Bach as a focus for Wendy Carlos’s pioneering recordings makes perfect sense: the instruments could play only one note...  (2002) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues