I have been a fan of Jesse Cook since 1995, when he first appeared with his album titled “Tempest. It was independently released in Canada first and then I believe it was released under the Narada label-it has been 20 some odd years :). Narada was and probably still is one of the largest labels for New Age, World Beat, Acoustic Music and at the time it was pretty much all I listened to.
His guitar work consistently is some of the most innovative, thoughtful intense work I have ever heard. Guitar music is a deeply felt instrument of music-it either hits your heart and fires you-or it doesn’t. There really is no half way measure.
Jesse Cook: Background
Jesse continues to use the classical style of guitar and his hand movements are a hybrid of flamenco, jazz and classical-all reflective of his personal background and journey in music. For Jesse, “music is a constantly evolving thing” and the truth is it should be and it should be intensely personal as well-I know it is for me.
His music has consistently crossed all types of boundaries and genres. It is his interpretation and fusion of all these types and styles of world musics that continues to set him apart from others.He has literally traveled the world and then created it sonically; Cairo, Colombia, Cuba, Zydeco, Flamenco, Classical, Rumba,World Beat, Pop, Blues, and Jazz.
While it appears that not many are familiar with who Jesse Cook is…this man is a global-guitar master. He has 11 Juno nominations, and a win in 2000 for the album “Free Fall”. He is Acoustic Guitar Player’s Choice Award silver winner in the Flamenco Category, and a three-time winner of the Canadian Smooth Jazz award for Guitarist of the Year. He has recorded on the EMI, E1 Music and Narada labels and has sold over 1.5 million records worldwide.
In 2014, I noticed that Jesse was going to have a show at the Concert Cafe at UT Austin. I simply emailed his Contact Us and hoped for the best. What has happened is a wonderful internet relationship with his manager Gina Mendello (CPR Entertainment), who is in my opinion one of the most accessible and nicest managers of someone of Jesse’s level has ever been. She has consistently been responsive and accommodating and I am so grateful and appreciative of this. When I saw that Jesse was coming back again to Texas, I emailed Gina and received a photo media pass and she honored a special request of mine as well. I really wanted to meet Jesse and get a selfie.
This tour is in support of Jesse’s’ new Album titled “One World” and in my humble opinion, it is his best to date. I have every single album and one DVD of his. I listen to them often and they are a part of my daily Pandora rotation. I literally have never heard a piece of his music I did not like.
I did get to meet Jesse after the show and shake his hand and we talked cameras for a few minutes, I did not have the heart to ask for a selfie, first of all he looked exhausted and he had every right to be. This show was even better than the first one I saw and to me he looked much more relaxed and second…it was so dark we would have been blinded by the camera flash…and the photographer in me cringed….sorry ….LOL. So I have sent a note to Gina asking her if he would mind autographing one of my images of him….I sent that off today…so we will see. In the meantime I have 90 some images of an amazing show, which are being shared with Gina for her use. I included some in the Gallery below and I composed a letter of all the things I wanted to say…figures meet someone you have admired after 20 years and the usual ” I can talk to a brick wall charisma” well flew out the window….
Letter to Jesse:
Thank you so much for giving me a few minutes of your time after the show at the Paramount Theater in Austin. The moment will forever be a highlight of this show for me and I am so grateful and appreciative of the time. I did get to say Thank you,for a wonderful show and to let you know that I have followed you since 1995. What I did not get to say and what I really wanted to share is this with you. I hope you get to read it.
You are an example for me, of why it is important to follow that inner vision. Thank you for sticking to your musical vision and following it. Your music has been and continues to be a huge part of my daily life. In your show you talk about the man who created the Duduk (an instrument similar to an oboe in shape) and how amazed you are by how it is that some people are here, and you hold your hands level and then by those that go here, and you lift one hand higher than the other…well Jesse, you are the hand higher. It shows in your gentle and humble interaction with those of us that follow you (sorry I hate the word FAN ). It shows in the amount of years that your band has been with you-people only stay with someone if they feel loved, appreciated, valued and that their contribution is a part of the whole…. and you show that every time I have seen a show and I am sure it is evident at every show. Their respect for you and yours for them is highly evident.
I am sorry that I did have a chance to speak longer with you. It is always somewhat awkward to find that stride of conversation between virtual strangers and after a show is my least favorite time to talk to musicians, they are tired and ready to go “off” and I can respect and understand that.
I would like to put a bid for a conversation with you somewhere on the schedule. It would be a “bucket list” dream to be able to set this appointment and have the time to really spend in a conversation with you. I promise my “talk to the brick wall charisma” would be in place. We could talk music, creation and fusion of, different styles and how of music’s influence and importance in daily life.
With highest regard and admiration