Widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost Nuevo Flamenco guitarists, Jesse Cook wrapped up the West Coast leg of his Canadian tour on Monday night at Chilliwack’s Hub Theatre And Cultural Centre. With a seating capacity of 550, this intimate venue was filled with an ephemeral upsurge of joyous energy as Jesse Cook and his band threw a rollicking rumba party.
Arriving in Canada from France and Barcelona as a youth, Cook was recognized as a guitar prodigy, and trained as a classical, flamenco and jazz guitarist. Cook has always sought to work with the world’s finest jazz, flamenco and world-beat musicians. His newest album, “One World” includes a worldwide mix of such talent and achieves a blend of world music, flamenco and gypsy sounds, weaving new and ancient rhythms from east and west into what has been hailed, in the Whole Note Magazine as “a joyous celebration of alpha wave stimulation and artistic globalism.”
Cook’s band are equally some of the world’s finest musicians in the genre, and many have played with him for over 15 years. Cook generously featured them throughout the performance and opened the show with each member layering note upon note until Cook took the stage. Violinist Chris Church opened the evening with rapid and crisp string fingering virtuosity. Church was soon accompanied by one of the other finest flamenco guitarists Nic Hernandez and shortly Dennis Mohammed took the stage on bass, until the band was completed with Alberto Suarez on percussion. When Cook took the stage, the audience erupted in adoration for one of the world’s finest musicians that Canada has been quick to claim as their own.
Cook moved the audience with his melancholy Three Days and held them spellbound with Baghdad, following tales by Cook of the impact of 6th century persian music on all music in the world today. Cook lured the audience to their feet with an up-tempo rumba jam in the second set, and built to a joyous crescendo with such favourites as Shake. The highlight of the performance, however, came in the second encore when the band performed an acoustic version of their 15 year old and greatest hit, – a cover of the Crowded House ballad, Fall at Your Feet. Without urging, 550 voices softly sang the chorus back to the band members. It was a moment of Oneness as if the audience was expressing gratitude to the band for all the years of wonderful world music.
A quick survey following the show confirmed that this was, for those interviewed, the best performance they could remember, from any band. Some claimed it to be the best concert of their lives. Smiles on all the faces were testament to the joyous celebration that only a Jesse Cook rumba party can bring.
Cook and his band now head south of the border for a USA west coast tour and return to the east coast of North America in late autumn/early winter.