Born: November 29, 1964 Primary Instrument: Guitar
Born in Paris on 29 November 1964 to photographer and filmmaker John Cook and television director and producer Heather Cook, Jesse Cook spent the first few years of his life moving between Paris, Southern France and Barcelona. As a toddler he was fascinated by the guitar and tried to emulate the sound he heard coming from his parents' recordings of Manitas de Plata, a famous Gypsy guitarist from the region of Southern France known as the Camargue.
After his parents separated, Cook and his sister accompanied his mother to her birth country, Canada. Recognizing the musical aptitude of her son, lessons followed at Toronto’s Eli Kassner Guitar Academy. Kassner's other famous pupil was classical guitarist Liona Boyd.
While Cook was still a teenager, His father retired to the French city of Arles in the Camargue where his neighbor just happened to be Nicolas Reyes, lead singer of the flamenco group the Gipsy Kings.
During frequent visits to Arles, Jesse Cook became increasingly fascinated by the “Camargue sound”, the rhythmic, flamenco-rumba approach that could be heard on many corners and cafés in the “gipsy barrio”.
Back at home, he continued his studies in classical and jazz guitar in some of North America’s most prestigious music schools, including the legendary Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has often quipped that he later attempted to unlearn it all while immersing himself in the oral traditions of Gypsy music. This helped him widen his range of musical tastes.
The 1995 Catalina Jazz Festival was a turning point in his career. His debut album Tempest had been independently released in Canada. Within a month, a deal with American company Narada allowed them to be booked at the Catalina Jazz festival. Originally the band was to perform during the twenty minute intermissions in a little bar downstairs from the main stage. His performance was well appreciated, so appreciated in fact that Cook was invited to give a performance on the main stage. Shortly afterwards, Tempest entered the American Billboard charts at #14.
Cook has recorded seven studio albums, two live DVDs and has traveled 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 Welsh soprano Charlotte Church on the Tonight Show and toured with legendary Irish band, The Chieftains.
His music has been featured on several episodes of Sex in The City, The Chris Isaac Show and several Olympic Games. In 2001, Cook won a Juno Award in the Best Instrumental Album category for Free Fall. In 2009, he was Acoustic Guitar Magazine's Player's Choice Award silver winner in the Flamenco category (gold went to Paco de Lucia). He is a three-time winner of the Canadian Smooth Jazz award for Guitarist of the Year and numerous other awards.