Street Beat goes on with nouveau classic
Nomad, gypsy, traveler – whatever you call him, Jesse Cook has a musical wanderlust. It’s taken him to Egypt, Spain, London – and now Vail. The guitarist performs for today’s Street Beat concert at 6 p.m.
“The world is getting smaller and smaller,” said Cook at his home in Toronto while packing for a three-month sojourn. “Cultures are sort of bumping up against each other. And people in artistic fields want to incorporate some of those other fields into what they’re doing.”
Which is why for his last album, “Nomad,” he traveled the world to work with a variety of musicians. Traveling with his well equipped laptop – he has all the recording software necessary to set up impromptu shop wherever he finds himself – Cook played musical dot to dot. One musician led to another, until he’d crossed three continents and played with musicians from five.
“It certainly wasn’t a master strategy of mine at all,” he explained. “I produce my records at home. I just start working and invite friends to record and do the records that way. As I’ve done more, I’ve wanted to incorporate more musicians from around the world.”
His past four albums have sold more than a million copies – there was nothing wrong with the way he was working. But trading in a cache of frequent flyer miles was probably the best thing he could have done for his music.
“Nomad” plays like a travel journal. Cook’s vibrant fingerwork is enhanced by a slew of musicians on violins, drums, vocals, cellos, darboukas and more. It was while he was in London that his co-producer, Simon Emmerson, invited him to hop over to Cairo and record with some other musicians.
“I remember thinking, oh God, this is getting out of control,” said Cook. “But a voice in the back of my head was saying, ‘This is amazing, somebody’s opening a door to another culture that’s not always open.’ We just had a great time. Once the Egyptian sessions happened everything else fell into place.”
There’s spontaneity in every track – things like accidental baby noises were left in.
He travels to Vail with his band, including Chris Church (violins), Art Avalos (percussion) and Kevin Liberte ((guitar). After a week on the road, Cook heads to Spain to study Spanish and hang out with other guitarists.
“It’s time for me to be a student again for a while,” he said. “I’ve been making records and outputting a lot. I need to input some new musical ideas.”
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