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Gig Pick: Jesse Cook at the NAC – 11.14.17

By Terry Steeves on November 10, 2017



Canada’s guitar virtuoso Jesse Cook and his band have been busy promoting his 10th self-produced album Beyond Borders (August 2017) with a supporting tour that began last month with dates up the eastern part of the US. Now heading across Canada, the band will make a stop at the National Arts Centre‘s Southam Hall on Tuesday November 14. His longtime touring band consists of Chendy Leon (drums/percussion), Chris Church (violin), Nicolas Hernandez (guitar/synth), and Dennis Mohammed (bass). Apt613 recently caught up with Jesse Cook who tells us about what we can expect from this string of shows:

“I think if we only played the material from the new album, people would get upset. Not everyone has all 10 of my records either, so I try to vary the program as much as I can. When you have 10 albums, you’re lucky if you get to play even one song from every record. I know I definitely have to play fan favourites, but generally, I try to put together a great show with a nice mix of songs of different tempos and moods. I think we’ve got a great program this time that keeps constantly evolving, and keeps things fresh for the players too.”

I try to put together a great show with a nice mix of songs of different tempos and moods.

As a young child, Jesse grew up listening to flamenco, and in particular the music that developed out of that genre in the Camarque region of southern France. He was heavily influenced by musicians from that region like the Gipsy Kings and Manitas de Plata, but also other international styles of Latin American, African, Indian, Egyptian, and Cuban music to name a few. His studies in production and engineering have also been influenced heavily by giants in the industry like Peter Gabriel and Al Schmitt.

“When I got to Canada, some of the first pieces I learned as a 6-year old were Flamenco pieces. But later, I studied at York in the Conservatory, then to Berkeley in the States to study jazz… so what I do now is really big hybrid. There’s all sorts of different elements of world music in there. I consider myself lucky that music has taken me to places I never thought I’d get to go to, and to work with some incredible musicians. I think music is a lifelong study. The more people I meet from different musical cultures, the more I realize just how vast this musical universe actually is.”

These worldly elements are evident when listening to Jesse’s music, and his latest album, Beyond Borders, is, I believe, his most diverse yet. From it’s first single, Double Dutch, you can hear a mixed barrage of exotic rhythms and instruments including some very haunting tones of the violin, and ranging guitar styles that flow from quick runs to lovely plucked melodies. There is also a perfect harmony between the organic flavour of the music and gentle synth touches that provide some unique flourishes and overall hugeness to the music.

“I think this is my best sounding record yet, and I would say it feels much more contemporary than the others. There’s a lot of ancient instruments but a lot of modern sounds too. I want my albums to sound as big as I can possibly make them sound. It‘s something I‘ve tried to keep improving and producing as an engineer and learn from each new record.”

Jesse Cook plays at the National Arts Centre on November 14 at 8pm. Tickets are available online from $53.50.