This Canadian guitarist is known for his masterful fusion of world music styles. Tickets on sale to Music Hall Members 1/30, and the public on 2/2.
“I want to take people to places they haven’t been,” Jesse Cook says. The Juno winning Canadian guitarist, known for his masterful fusion of world music styles, has traveled the globe looking for sounds that resonate with him. On this tour, he will be playing music off his new album, Beyond Borders, where he continues his journey, playing music without any cultural or geographical boundaries.
“I like music that provides a common ground for different traditions, a space where music from all historical eras and parts of the world can mingle,” Cook explains. “On this album, and One World, my last record, I began to realize that you can go anywhere on earth, without moving. There are many borders in our lives. Some have been built by others, some we create for ourselves, but whenever I ventured beyond the borders of my life, I have been the better for it. In the past few years, we’ve been moving backwards. I don’t want to focus on politics, but after the fall of the Berlin wall, Europe united and people began thinking of themselves as global citizens. The rising nationalism of today is exploiting our differences, not celebrating them. Beauty, humanity, artistry, joy, wisdom, and of course love…these things don’t stop at some line on a page. If music is the universal language, maybe there is something it can teach us?”
True to his philosophy, Cook has recorded in seven countries on three continents, collaborating with Egyptian, Columbian, Brazilian, African and Armenian musicians to develop a singular synthesis of flamenco, jazz, R&B, electronic and world music. On Beyond Borders, he found inspiration in his own backyard. “Toronto has become one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world, so I can stay home and find everything I need. We have musicians from Armenia, Greece, Spain, Columbia, India, West Africa, Cuba and Jamaica, to mention a few. You can find Brazilian samba schools and West African drum circles, so I was able to record Beyond Borders in my home studio.”
The album took two and a half years to make, with every track created to Cook’s own meticulous standards. He writes, records and arranges the music, creating templates with deep emotional foundations, before inviting collaborators to add nuance and shading to the compositions. “Everything on this album comes from my own experience. I was going through a difficult period in my life and it blew the door of my imagination wide open. I went for a huge sound, without limits. I threw away the rules, trying to find places I’d never been before, and I got there. The sad songs are sadder, the rhythms are more intricate, the sounds mashed up to look at traditional patterns in a new way.”
On his albums, and in concert, Cook explored the history of flamenco, tracing its roots from India to Spain and Cuba. Along the way, he developed his signature synthesis of world music. He’s released ten genre-defying albums, garnering eleven Juno (Canada’s Grammy) nominations – and one win, in 2001 for Free Fall - in the World Music and Instrumental categories. “I write music without lyrics, so it’s a statement of pure emotion,” Cook says. “Music touches your soul, or it doesn’t, and every tradition on earth has its own way of doing that. When we venture beyond our cultural and geographic borders, we can gain the whole world.”