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Raoul Björkenheim (born 1956, Los Angeles) is a Finnish-American jazz guitarist. He was born to Finnish parents. His mother is actress/singer Taina Elg (half Russian). He lived in the USA until he was 15 years old, when his family returned to Finland. He resided in Finland until 2001 when he relocated to New York City.
Björkenheim had his breakthrough experience working with one of the most significant figures in Finnish jazz, drummer Edward Vesala. In the 1980s he played on three records under Vesala's leadership, including the first by Vesala's group Sound And Fury, Lumi (on ECM Records).
In the late 1980s Björkenheim left Vesala to start his own group, Krakatau. After two recordings issued initially only in Finland, Björkenheim reformed the group with all new personnel (other than himself). In the early 1990s the new Krakatau issued two recordings on ECM, after which it dissolved.
Subsequent projects have included the international group Phantom City, led by Paul Schütze; a collaborative recording with New York guitarist Nicky Skopelitis; and arranging and playing the music of Miles Davis's electric period with Finland's UMO Jazz Orchestra.
His recent collaborations include a duo with drummer Lukas Ligeti and the Scorch Trio with Norwegians Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (bass) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums). In 2007 he recorded under the title Box with Trevor Dunn (bass), Ståle Storløkken (keyboards, electronics), Morgan Ågren (drums).The project was initiated by film-maker Philip Mullarkey to record and play live as part of the art/film project Box. Since then he has continued collaboration with local Finnish musicians (UMO orchestra, Kalle Kalima and Markus Holkko), as well as maintaining productive contacts with old New York colleagues William Parker and Hamid Drake.
- Dorsch, Jim. "Raoul Björkenheim: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-11-22.