What immediately hits you about the music of the Scorch Trio is their raw intensity and singularity of purpose. Guitarist Raoul Björkenheim, born in Los Angeles, has spent most of his musical career in Finland. He has recorded with Edvard Vesala, Bill Laswell, Nicky Skopelitis, and his own band Krakatau. He brings a passion for Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman to this guitarist trio format.
Backing Björkenheim is one of the hottest rythm sections in jazz today. The Norwegians, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love have recently worked with Mats Gustafsson on the Don Cherry tribute The Thing (Crazy Wisdom), Ken Vandermark’s School Days band (Okka Disc), and backed South African saxophonist Zim Ngqawana on his first two recordings. As displayed here, their energy is apparently unlimited.
Recorded live this past January in Norway with no edits or overdubs, the trio delivers a bold effort. Björkenheim conjures the spirit of Sonny Sharrock’s search and destroy sound on the 13-minute opening track as Nilssen-Love plays at a frenzied pace. From there the pace rarely slows. They hammer through “Taalus” and the odessay of nearly twelve minutes of “XXX.” Björkenheim is in full control of his guitar effects be they the eerie atmospheric ambiance heard on “Vittula” or the James Ulmer blues of “Salaa,” perhaps the highlight of this session. Håker Flaten chants along with his simple bass line throughout “Salaa” as Björkenheim resurrects Coltrane’s “Love Supreme.”
The ‘wow-factor’ of this recording is certainly equaled by its intelligence. Rune Grammofon is distributed by ECM Records.