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Juno Award-winning musician Jesse Cook has become accustomed to seeing landscapes from inside an airplane, train or bus during his career.
“A lot of touring is you’re staying at airport hotels and strip malls, or you’re always seeing the back of a venue and the inside of a tour bus and you’re not really getting to see the world,” Cook said.
However, there is one trip where the flamenco musician is given the opportunity to see beautiful landscapes without having to look through a window.
“One of my favourite parts of any tour is that ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay up to Nanaimo,” Cook said. “It’s just gorgeous and I know you guys probably take it for granted ... but I can’t count the number of times where we’ve seen a pod of whales off the side of the boat or there has been some spectacular sunrise over the mountains. It’s just gorgeous.”
On March 5, Cook will be performing at the Port Theatre. The Berklee College graduate will then make three more stops on the Island before heading to the United States and Russia.
“Part of what makes being an artist wonderful is getting to see the world and being able to travel,” he said.
Cook is also scheduled to perform in Kiev, Ukraine but because of recent political events in the former Soviet state the show is in jeopardy.
“As the band leader I sort of feel a bigger sense of responsibility. I can’t really say yes to a gig which might put the other guys in my band in harm’s way,” he said.
Cook was born in Paris, France and moved to Toronto with his mother and sister at a young age. The former York University student has released seven studio albums since 1995 and his album Free Fall received a Juno Award in 2001.
In September of 2012 Cook released his most recent record, The Blue Guitar Sessions. Cook had originally planned to release a Latin influenced album but decided to go in a different direction.
“It was going to be a Brazilian record with all sorts of Brazilian collaborations and I was going to fly down to Rio and work with people there,” Cook said.
As Cook began working on the Brazilian-themed record he also found himself becoming more and more interested in a blues album, which then became The Blue Guitar Sessions.
“I just found myself more and more loving that blues feel so I kind of put the Brazil record on hold,” he said. Cook is already hard at work on a new record, which he is planning on releasing sometime early next year.
“I started working on a new record ... but I can’t say more than that,” he said.
Cook’s music has been featured in various TV shows, including Sex and the City, and in the Olympics. Just recently, 16-year-old Canadian figure skater Gabrielle Daleman skated to Cook’s song Cancion Triste at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“It’s always a surprise,” Cook said. “I feel honoured of course. I am always thrilled when people want to do something with my music. I feel like that is how we honour our composers.”
It’s not the first time that an Olympian has skated to Cook’s music. Russian figure skater Irina Slutskaya won a bronze medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino after she skated to Cook’s song Mario Takes A Walk.
“It’s funny because I think every Olympic games since I released my first record [Tempest] they’ve used my music for mostly the figure skating,” he said.
Cook has received plenty of award nominations and opened for respected musicians such as B.B. King, Ray Charles and Diana Krall during his career. The Toronto-based musician cannot fathom the idea of retirement.
“I don’t ever want to have to give this up. It’s funny because I know people where their job is just how they put food on the table, which is totally a noble pursuit,” Cook said. “I mean we all have to survive, but they’re living for their retirement and with me I can’t imagine retirement and I love what I do.”