Jesse Cook was cooking with some serious musical gas when he played in Vernon on his One World tour Tuesday, Nov. 15.
He and his band had the audience up on their feet, hands numb from clapping along to their worldy sounds.
Joining the Toronto-based guitarist was his ensemble of long-standing musical geniuses.
With groove meister Dennis Mohammed holding down the bass and Nicolas Hernandez showing flair on old and new school flamenco guitar, Cook played some of his older rumba, nuevo flamenco hits such as Mario Takes a Walk, Luna llena and Gipsy (off 1996’s Gravity), fingers dancing across the strings.
The songs from Cook’s new album, One World, showcased not only Middle Eastern sounds with Bollywood rhythms, but Cook’s skills on electronic production with synthesized backdrops and looping, as heard on Bombay Slam.
It also highlighted the skilled set of Cuban-born drummer and percussionist Chendy Leon. His lightning fast hands blew us away, especially when he played on the rattling “box”, otherwise known as the cajón.
On Brazil Taxi, Cook said he was inspired by the rhythms of street movement – windshield wipers and a subway train travelling down the track – so he asked Chendy to come over to his house, and together they looked for household items to use in the recording to capture that rhythmic groove, which they then looped live on stage for us.
The door underneath the oven proved to be a treasure trove when Chendy pulled out the pots and pans, explained Cook.
Also back was Cook’s longtime stage-mate, the immeasurable Chris Church on violin, accordion, and a woodwind, flute-like instrument known as the Armenian duduk, which Cook explained was one of the oldest musical instruments dating back 3,000 years.
The duduk haunted on the Middle Eastern influenced Incantation off Cook’s fourth studio album Free Fall, as well as on numerous songs off One World.
Church also impressed with his vocal prowess, joining Cook (yes Cook even sings, quite decently, I might add) on a rendition of The Lumineers’ Hey Ho.
He returned to sing with the band for a bright and punchy rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s Cecilia (off 2009’s The Rumba Foundation) before returning for an encore and launching into the fan favourite Fall at Your Feet by Crowded House (Cook’s version of the song originally appeared on Free Fall with The Rembrandts’ Danny Wilde on vocals, but Church has made the song his signature on his live tours with Cook).
Cook and his virtuosic posse saved the best for last, with a moving performance of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
A tip of the hat to the recently fallen muse, its message resonated even more significantly with the recent state of the world, and there was hardly a dry eye in the full house at the Performing Arts Centre.
It was a tonic, a relief from this big, crazy confused planet, which Cook has made better through his music.
• Photos by Justin Bongers
• Music: Taxi Brazil off One World by Jesse Cook