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Jesse Arnaud Cook is a Canadian guitarist, composer, and producer. Widely considered one of the most influential figures in "nuevo flamenco" (new flamenco) music, he incorporates elements of flamenco rumba, jazz & many forms of world music into his work. He is a Juno Award winner, Acoustic Guitar (magazine)'s Player's Choice Award silver winner in the Flamenco Category, and a three-time winner of the Canadian Smooth Jazz award for Guitarist of the Year. He has recorded on the EMI, E1 Music and Narada labels and has sold over 1.5 million records worldwide.
Born in Paris on 28 November 1964 to photographer and filmmaker John Cook and television director and producer Heather Cook, and nephew to artist Arnaud Maggs, 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, Cook's mother arranged for him to take lessons at Toronto’s Eli Kassner Guitar Academy. Cook eventually studied under Kassner, himself a student of the great maestro Andrés Segovia.
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 graduated from Toronto Waldorf School and continued his studies in classical and jazz guitar at Canada's Royal Conservatory of Music, York University, and the legendary Berklee College of Music in The United States. 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, where he received a ten-minute standing ovation before the audience would allow him to play. Shortly afterwards, Tempest entered the American Billboard charts at #14.
Cook has recorded eight studio albums, three 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. Other artists Cook has performed and/or recorded with include: Montse Cortés (Spain), Flora Purim(Brazil), Holly Cole (Canada), Afro Celt Sound System (England), Buckwheat Zydeco (USA), Danny Wilde of The Rembrandts (USA), Liona Boyd (Canada), Ofra Harnoy (Canada), Alex Cuba (Cuba), Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto (Colombia), Dadawa (China), Djivan Gasparyan (Armenia), and Dulce Pontes (Portugal), among others.
His music has been featured on several episodes of Sex and The City, The Chris Isaak Show and several Olympic Games. At the 2006 Winter Olympics, Irina Slutskaya of Russia won a bronze medal skating to Cook's composition "Mario Takes a Walk".
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.
In 2012, his concert television special "Jesse Cook, Live in Concert" was broadcast on the PBS and Public Television networks in the United States.
1997: Best Global Album: Gravity, Nominated: Jesse Cook
1998: Instrumental Artist(s) of the Year, Nominated: Jesse Cook
1999: Best Instrumental Album: Vertigo, Nominated: Jesse Cook
1999: Best Global Album: Vertigo, Nominated: Jesse Cook
2001: Best Male Artist, Nominated: Jesse Cook
2001: Best Instrumental Album: Free Fall, Won: Jesse Cook
2001: Best Global Album: Free Fall, Nominated: Jesse Cook
2004: World Music Album of the Year (sponsored by Canada Council for the Arts): Nomad, Nominated: Jesse Cook
2008: World Music Album of the Year (sponsored by Canada Council for the Arts): Frontiers, Nominated: Jesse Cook
2008: Music DVD of the Year: One Night At The Metropolis - Jesse Cook, Nominated: Jesse Cook, Pierre Séguin, Darrell Gilmour
2011: World Music Album of the Year (sponsored by Canada Council for the Arts): The Rumba Foundation, Nominated: Jesse Cook
Total Nominations: 11
Total Wins: 1
Gravity (1996) Certified: Gold
Vertigo (1998) Certified: Gold
Free Fall (2000) Certified: Gold and Platinum
Nomad (2003) Certified: Gold
Frontiers (2008) Certified: Gold
The Rumba Foundation (2009) Certified: Gold
One Night at the Metropolis (2007) Certified: Gold and Platinum
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