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

2018-02-18
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

2018-02-15
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

2018-02-14
Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

2018-01-30
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more

2018-01-18
Christian Burchard RIP – Multi-instrumentalist Christian Burchard, who founded the seminal band Embryo in 1969, has died at the age of 71. His January 17 passing was announced on the band's Facebook page. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Makaras Pen - Makaras Pen – If you’re in the mood for dreamy female vocals drenched in reverb, there’s a bunch of bands you can turn to, many of whom populate the Projekt roster, but if you feel like a little more energy in...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues