For Jesse Cook, music has been a journey. Sonically and literally.
“Over the years, I’ve taken my music and tried to cross-pollinate it with music from different parts of the world,” explains the 50-year-old global-guitar virtuoso. “For the (2003) album Nomad, I went to Cairo and recorded with musicians there. On my (2009) record The Rumba Foundation, I went to Colombia, and worked with musicians from Cuba as well. On (1998’s) Vertigo, I went down to Lafayette, La., and recorded with Buckwheat Zydeco. For me, the question has always been: Where did you go? Where did you take your guitar?”
The short answer this time? Nowhere. And everywhere. After two decades of criss-crossing the world in restless pursuit of inspiration, innovation and collaboration, the Paris-born, Toronto-raised Cook changed course for his ninth studio album, One World. Instead of exotic locales, he stayed home in his studio. Instead of a foreign legion of performers, he relied on his own devices. And instead of exploring cul de sacs of music — flamenco, classical, rumba, world beat, pop, blues or jazz — he united them.
“On this record, it’s not really about going someplace,” he says of the 2015 release. “The idea is that there really is just one world.”
What results is the most sonically diverse and distinctive disc in Cook’s vast and varied catalogue, which has earned 11 Juno nominations and one win for 2000’s Free Fall. On these 11 instrumentals, programmed beats and dusty electronic textures are interwoven with syncopated handclaps, deep dubby bass lines and popping percussion. Sitars and violin share the space with synthesizers and sound effects. Notes and rhythms dance playfully back and forth between speakers. Naturally, Cook’s masterful guitar work commands centre stage with its elegant balance of subtlety, in-the-moment honesty and blazing technical prowess. But here, it also pivots between worlds — past and future, familiar and fresh, acoustic and electronic — redefined by technology like every element of modern life.
The journey continues, and on Nov. 10, the journey brings Cook to the Sid Williams Theatre.
Tickets for the all-ages show are $49.50 plus applicable fees. Go to sidwilliamstheatre.com, or call 250-338-2430 to purchase, or for more details.