Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Jesse Cook

Jesse Cook (Courtesy Photo)
Jesse Cook (Courtesy Photo)

Canadian guitarist, composer and producer Jesse Cook has been on the road supporting his concert special “Live at Bathhurst Street Theatre,” which is currently airing on the Public Broadcasting Service.

He’s been touring in Oregon, California and Washington and is just starting the East Coast leg of his tour, which stops in Alexandria for a March 9 performance at The Birchmere. He said the concert special airing on PBS has been helping him get exposure to music lovers he might not be able to reach otherwise.

“Well, it’s been quite remarkable. The music that I’m making, it’s a little off the beaten path. It isn’t pop music that you’re going to hear on the radio everyday,” Cook said. “So we’ve always had to rely on word of mouth for people finding out about us, or somebody hearing us on Pandora or some satellite radio station or something like that. To be on PBS and to get that kind of exposure has been fantastic.”

Cook and his band have been able to play larger venues as a result of the PBS concert special. For example, they went from playing a jazz club to playing sold out nights at a big theatre in Boston.

He’s played The Birchmere many times before and said that the club is a great and storied venue. “It seems like everybody’s played there at one point or another,” Cook said.
“For people who come out to see the show, I hope they bring their dancing shoes. By the end we can have a bit of a rumba party.”

Cook, one of the purveyors of the “nuevo flamenco” movement, has been at it for years, blending influences and sounds from all across the auditory landscape to try to create something “completely new.”

When he spoke to the News-Press, Cook said he and his team were working on the album art for his upcoming release One World, which will be released in April. He said working on the album was “fun.”

“Every album is a little bit different,” Cook said. “This one was less of me working with a lot of different people. On this record it was more of a project that I did mostly on my own. I had a few guests like Tommy Emmanuel, a great guitarist, join me on a song and members of my band played on certain tracks.”

For the most part, Cook said, creating One World was “a reclusive experience.” “It was, perhaps, more personal. It was just me in the recording studio working on most of the production.”

Although Cook said that it was hard to describe his new album, he called it a “world music tour.”

“You know Constantinople, that city that, for thousands of years, people had to pass through when they were going to the East from the West, the trade routes, the Silk Road from China, everything seemed to pass through there,” Cook said.

“And it was a place where all of those cultures would come into contact with each other in a way that they wouldn’t in other parts of the world….But in Constantinople the whole world was passing through there. I wanted to create the Constantinople of our time with the music of our time, with not just musical instruments from different parts of the world and musical cultures from all over the world, but also electronica and ancient sounds and modern sounds all passing through the eye of a needle.”

• For more information about Jesse Cook, visit jessecook.com.