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Jesse Cook

Rock/Pop

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About Jesse Cook

Musicians often speak of influences and for Juno award winning guitarist Jesse Cook it is not so much one individual that holds a special place in his heart but a region in southern France known as the Camargue.

It was here in Arles that his father, a retired film director, lived the last ten years of his life. And it's where Jesse spent many summers, wandering the streets among the Gypsies who inhabit the area, soaking up the atmosphere and listening to the likes of Nicolas Reyes, lead singer of the flamenco
group Gipsy Kings, who just happened to live next door.

Born in Paris in 1964 to John and Heather Cook, Jesse first picked up a toy guitar at the age of three desperately trying to mimic the sounds of guitarist Manitas de Plata who lived in the Camargue. This Gypsy guitar legend, made famous by his friendship with Picasso, would have an enormous impact on the young Jesse Cook.

After his parents separated, Jesse accompanied his mother and sister to Canada, Heather's birthplace, and she soon recognised a precocious musical aptitude in her son. Lessons followed at Toronto's esteemed Eli Kassner Guitar Academy. Kassner's other famous pupil was classical guitarist Liona Boyd.

Informal jam sessions at his father's house and at the annual Gypsy festival in nearby Saintes Maries de la Mer helped hone his skills. Between Arles and his mother's French farmhouse, Toronto seemed a world away. There he continued his studies in classical and jazz guitar at some of North America's most prestigious music schools, then attempted to unlearn it all while immersing himself in the oral traditions of Gypsy music. This unusual dichotomy paid dividends in his wide range of musical tastes. It is clearly and continually reflected in his passion for exploration and fusion which has helped develop the sound and confidence he exudes on stage today.

Since then Cook, has recorded six critically acclaimed studio albums and travelled the world exploring musical traditions that he has blended into his style of rumba flamenco. In addition to headlining concerts and festivals, he has opened for such legends as B.B. King, Ray Charles and Diana Krall. He has performed with British soprano Charlotte Church on the Tonight Show and toured with legendary Irish band, The Chieftains.

In 2001 Cook won his first Juno Award in the Best Instrumental Album category for "Free Fall."

Most recently he has been nominated for two 2008 Juno awards, for his 2007 release Frontiers (World Music Album of the Year) and for the incredible DVD One Night at the Metropolis (Music DVD of the Year) which captures a spectacular concert during the 2006 Montreal Jazz Festival.

But for Jesse Cook its not awards that drive him. Live concerts remain his lifeblood and at the age 43 he is really only just getting started.