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To help with the title of his 11th album, flamenco guitar virtuoso, Jesse Cook, asked his YouTube subscribers for suggestions.  What he found was that generally everyone was replying with words like ‘liberty' and ‘freedom’ or the French word,  ‘libre’. Perhaps the latter is the most appropriate, considering Jesse spent his younger years in France, heavily influenced by guitarist, Manitas De Plata, courtesy of his parents' record collection.

Fast forward to a present that finds us all yearning for freedom. Jesse's album was written and recorded during the pandemic.  He explains that his music was his escape from the four walls that surrounded him and the "storm that was swirling outside”. Interestingly, his inspiration for the sound of the new album came during a drive to the family cottage with his 14 year old daughter.   She acted as the DJ with a playlist that was 808 beat-based, which is the rhythm of the famous Roland TR-808 drum machine from the 80’s.  He decided to experiment with this beat in his new music.  

Jesse’s familiar with the 808. While in Grade 10, he spent time in a basement recording session with this beat box, so he feels like "he’s coming full circle and a bit like coming home”.  On ‘Hey!’ and ‘Oran’ with guest Algerian multi-instrumentalist, Fethi Nadjem, the two conjure up some cool rhythms accompanied by Jesse’s amazing guitar playing. If you've ever seen him perform live, you  know how fast and precisely he plays!

His "world" sound includes the complex Middle Eastern rhythms that have been developed over the  centuries using strings and percussion.   And taking advantage of current technology, Jesse  had the freedom to record any instrument, anytime, by himself at his home studio in Toronto. Having the time to write ten new songs is the silver lining to his tour postponement.  He was about to hit the road with his incredible band to mark the 25th anniversary of his 1995 debut album, Tempest, when the pandemic hit.  

Be sure to see him on the 'Tempest II Tour’ this year that launches on the U.S. West Coast this month and includes dates in Southern Ontario in the spring.


Gary James

The Night Show 


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