Raoul Björkenheim

Raoul Bjorkenheim’s guitar playing has been described as a force in nature. The traditional traits associated with jazz and rock have given way to a visceral, expressive approach to creating timbres and velocities. Raoul experimented with different tunings on his 6 and 12 string guitars. He made full use of electronics and the delicate touch of his fingers to create startling textures that imitate everything, from birds, singers or flutes to string orchestras and butterfly wings. He is constantly discovering new sounds on his guitar and has developed a unique language that speaks to people all over the globe through his concerts. B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix were his first influences. Raoul King was first influenced by Jimi Hendrix and B.B. He took jazz guitar lessons in New York City, which whetted his curiosity and led him to the Berklee College of Music, Boston, where he graduated in 1981. He returned to Helsinki and became a part of an active jazz scene. Raoul started to make his own path, drawing on his experiences in jazz, Cuban, and Senegalese groups. For the Roommushklahn he teamed up Jone Takamaki and Antti Hytti with like-minded artists Tom Nekljudow, Antti Hyti, Jarmo Savolainen, and they created an improvising group that focuses on electric improvisation in a personal style that draws heavily from world ethnic music. His work with Arbuusi continued, a pugnacious trio that he formed with Nekljudow, the bassist ToppoIsopuro and was established in 1976. These activities resulted in Raoul spending several years studying with Edward Vesala (finnish free jazz maestro), who was a key figure in Raoul’s growth. His uncompromising attitude as well as his brilliant drumming were a major factor in Raoul’s success. The intensity of rehearsal sessions with Vesala’s band Sound are legendary.

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