Ten platinum and gold studio albums. Five concert DVDs and live discs. Five PBS specials. One Juno Award. Eleven nominations. One Gemini Award. Three Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards. One Acoustic Guitar Magazine Player’s Choice Silver Award. A wall full of similar accolades. Thousands of concerts in dozens of countries. Millions of YouTube views and audio streams. Countless fans around the globe. And a career that is celebrating its 25th year and counting.
Not a bad legacy for a guy who never planned to release an album.
“If you had asked me at age 22, I would have said that I would never, never make music for the public,” Jesse Cook says with a laugh. “I would have told you that the public is much too fickle— they may love you one minute and forget you the next. Well, it turns out I did the thing I said I’d never do, and somehow it’s worked out.”
That’s an understatement. Since launching his career with 1995’s Tempest, Cook has blazed an incredible trail. Along with being a global – guitar virtu oso, he’s honed his skills as a composer, producer, arranger, performer and, more recently, filmmaker and cultural ambassador. More incredibly, he started down many of those paths before he started school. Born in Paris to photographer John Cook and TV producer-director Heather Cook, young Jesse also lived in Barcelona, where he picked up an interest in flamenco as a toddler. At six, after his parentsdivorced and he moved to Toronto with his mother, the prodigy attended the prestigious Eli Kassner Guitar Academy. During summers with his father in Arles, he soaked up more flamenco from neighbour Nicolas Reyes, leader of the world- renowned Gipsy Kings. Despite this, Cook originally and surprisingly planned to attend art school, until a girlfriend set him straight: “She said, ‘Your music is really good; your art, not so much.’ So I changed tracks. I’m so glad I did.” After attending the Royal Conservatory, York University and Berklee College, a comfortable career as a composer seemed in the cards…..