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.