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L.A. Beat

Jesse Cook goes blue for latest experiment in world music

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Toronto based world/ flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook has carved a niche out for himself as a square peg in a round hole playing his own brand of flamenco and world music since starting out back in 1995.
 He returns to Lethbridge, March 2 to play the Yates Centre.
“When I started in 1995, I had one album that was 45 minutes long and it wasn’t enough for an entire  show, so I had to play Gipsy King covers and pop songs to fill it out.

Jesse Cook returns to Lethbridge, March 2. Photo Submitted
 Now I have records  to choose from, which is great,’” said  Cook, getting errands done before beginning the last leg of the Blue Guitar tour — the tour in support of  his “unapologetically sad” “Blue Guitar Sessions” CD which was released in 2012. This tour takes him across Alberta  and B.C., plus several dates in the U.S.  and even over to Russia.

 He  is touring with his long time band including Chris Church on violin, Chendy Leon playing percussion, bassist Dennis Mohammed and guitarist Nicholas Hernandez.

“And Nicholas and I both have our big flamenco guitars hooked up to synthesizers. But everything you hear is played live. I don’t understand why people would want pre-recorded tracks and come and watch a machine perform them,” he said.

“I’m a big fan of Peter Gabriel who uses layers of sounds,” he said adding they can add different sounds like sitars and  loop them so they play behind the guitars.

“ I want to be the Phil Spector of world music,” he said.

 After that he will begin a new tour in support of his most recent PBS special “ Jesse Cook at the Bathurst Theatre,” which was filmed last May. It will be replayed a lot in March.

 It is a pretty similar show to the show we will be playing in Lethbridge. We were in the middle of changing the set. So we were relearning new old songs,” he said.
 He is pleased PBS has got behind his career.

“When you play weird, off the beaten path world music like we do, there’s no real place to support us, so to have a big station like PBS get behind us is miraculous, he said.
While a lot of people have observed “The Blue Guitar Sessions”  is a departure for Cook, he said it isn’t really as he’s recorded albums with very diverse world influences.

“My music is usually loud and bombastic. There is a definite jazz influence, but  even though it is called  the ‘Blue Guitar Sessions,’ it is definitely not a blues guitar record. It is an unapologetically quiet and melancholy record. It’s the kind of record you put on in the morning and listen to with your coffee or when you are wallowing in self pity  at 2 a.m. because your girlfriend just dumped you. Where ever people play record like this,” he said.

 Pop singer Adele was one of many influences that went tin to this record.

“She was one of many records on the playlist of blue albums I was listening to when I made this one,” he said.

“Her record is quite strong and spacious with just a piano and vocals, which is different than a lot of pop albums. It’s quite a beautiful record. But she was a small influence,” he said.

“ I’ve always wanted to make a record like this, but now it’s out of my system. The next one will be loud and bombastic,” he said adding he doesn’t know what direction he will take with the next record.
“It was originally going to be a Brazilian record with steel drums when I went in to make this one. But sometimes you start your journey on one path and the next thing you know, you are on a totally different road,” he said.

 He said it has been a success and the tours  on the record have been successful

“ People don’t buy records anymore. Soon they’ll have to give gold records for pirate bay downloads,” he chuckled.
He hasn’t been to Lethbridge for a few years.
“ I actually have family in Lethbridge. My uncle married a Lethbridge woman, and I actually had a room mate who was from Lethbridge. But it’s been about five years,” he said.
 Jesse Cook plays the Yates Centre, March 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $50.

 — By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 25 February 2014 12:01 )  
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