Born in Los Angeles in 1956, Björkenheim has spent much of his life shuttling between New York and Helsinki, developing a bold approach to playing electric guitar and composing for big bands, symphony orchestras, films, modern dance companies and his own groups.
Having served an apprenticeship with Edward Vesala for several years, three recordings for ECM brought Björkenheim to the attention of the international community, leading to encounters with musicians such as Bill Laswell, Anthony Braxton, Reggie Workman, Henry Kaiser, and Elliot Sharp.
Björkenheim has been a soloist with the Helsinki Symphony Orchestra, the Avanti Chamber Orchestra, the Radio Symphony Orchestra, the UMO big band and the Tampere philharmonic, and has composed for them all.
Today Björkenheim’s main performing energies are brought into focus through his quartet Ecstasy, Triad, Blixt with Bill Laswell and Morgan Ågren, Scorch quartet, and solo guitar.
Björkenheim has been awarded the Georgie Prize for best jazz musician of the year, the Young Finland Award, the Emma prize for best jazz recording of the year, and been nominated three times for the Nordic Music Award.