Photographs by Lee-Ann Richer.
Jesse Cook’s newest album “One World” is a result of a globe’s worth of experience, musical influences and culture. His rumba flamenco style of playing is aggressive, seductive and note perfect! The icing on top is with all that talent he infuses his show with lots of personality, funny stories, and quips.
The Canadian Juno award winning guitarist, composer and producer had the predominantly older crowd clapping almost the entire night. If they weren’t clapping to show appreciation they were clapping to enhance the groove of his music.
The evening opened with “Café Mocha”, “Gravity” and a song, “Taxi Brazil” off of his latest album “One World”.
The evening was a constant change of beats, styles and delivery. Some songs involved the full band while other songs were duos or trios. They created a welcoming and cozy atmosphere, often sitting in chairs, relaxed and making you feel like you were hanging out with them in a coffee shop. However, the mood would quickly change, depending on the song, and the musicians would stand and immediately there was seriousness about their performance.
Jesse had the audience laughing when he explained how his wife innocently thought a song was recorded in what was basically an afternoon jam session. She had no idea that Jesse’s musical pieces were developed over months! She also had no idea that a lot of the interaction between the band members was done electronically (not in an afternoon jam session!). He explained how he would add layers and textures, electronically.
He demonstrated the layering process on stage. He started by tapping and thumping on his guitar. He used a loop to record those sounds. Then he added other rhythms, and recorded those notes on the loop. Finally, he performed a lead. Each layer added more dimension and vibrancy to the melody! At the crescendo Chris Church stepped out and added his haunting and sometimes emotional sounding violin accompaniments.
What was interesting was how Jesse embraced and encouraged clapping and dancing from the audience. It was unique because Jesse used the vibe of the room in his songs. It was like he fed off of the audience’s sounds and incorporated it into his playing. Usually it’s the audience merging with the band…this time it felt like it was the other way around! What a way to absorb the energy of the night!
This Quintet has no shortage of talent. They as strong solo as they are with the band. Halifax born Chris Church has the longest reign with the band being 16 years. His unique solos are a great addition. The foundation of the band Rosendo Chendy León Arocha from Cuba, on drums and percussion had a style all unto his own. Very powerful when needed and his subtle nuances were tasteful. Nicolas Hernandez has 13 years with the band is an amazing guitarist however he would have to be to be with someone like Jesse Cook. Last but not least Dennis Mohammed on upright and bass guitar had his moments to solo as the others did.
After Intermission “Shake”, another song off new album “One World”, started the second set. This was followed by “Tempest”. Many people discovered Jesse Cook in the early 90s when they heard “Tempest” play on the TV channel! Jesse and Nicolas performed this song as a duo. You could barely see either of their hands, they plucked so fast. It was like dueling banjos…only with guitars and a way better song!!
Next up was “Luna Lena”, before the last of the new songs, “Three Days”. “Mario Takes a Walk” and “Rumba Medley” finished off the second set.
For their encore they performed Simon and Garfunkel’s, “Cecelia”. Chris Church sang lead, and the audience sang back up! Then, the highlight of the night to many of us was during the next song in the encore, “Fall at Your Feet”. The band went into the crowd and played the song without amps or microphones. Again, Chris Church sang lead, and Rosendo sang harmony. The entire audience was on their feet. Afterwards I heard probably the loudest applause I have heard at Centre In The Square.
“Hey Ho” capped off the night for a room full of satisfied fans.