Spotlight: Raoul Björkenheim

The first profile I ever did for Guitar Player magazine was about Raoul Björkenheim. I had discovered his band, Krakatau, on ECM and was stunned by his Hendrix meets late era Coltrane approach. I had to talk the editors into letting me do it, but to their credit they let me interview this unknown (in America, anyway) Finnish guitarist. Since then Björkenheim has appeared on dozens of recordings under his own name and with projects like Scorch Trio and Umo Jazz Orchestra. Like Bill Frisell, he has a distinctive, recognizable style that nevertheless fits in a variety of contexts. It is a sound synthesized from a wide range of influences that he describes in detail here. It is worth noting that though these sources of inspiration are common to hundreds of players, here they disappear into a singular voice that is pure Björkenheim.


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