If I were to say the words “Spanish guitar” or “modern flamenco guitar” to you, you might think of the Gypsy Kings. You would certainly have a vision of a Latin or perhaps Mediterranean person or group associated with this style of music. But what if I were to tell you that perhaps the best modern flamenco guitarist performing today, is in fact the whitest, dorkiest, Canadian guy you’ve ever seen? Well it’s a fact. Jesse Cook is that dorky white Canadian.
I have have met Jesse a few times and he is actually more shy than dorky, and truly a modest man given the talents he possesses. Hailing from Toronto, he has set a new standard in modern Spanish guitar. I hesitate to single out any of his albums, because they are all phenomenal, but I have a fondness for his first three… Tempest… Freefall… and Vertigo.
The one problem I have with Jesse though is that he never seems to leave Canada. If you go to his website, you’ll see he tours extensively in the northern provinces, but rarely seems to get to the States. I have seen him five times over the last 10 years, and I’m convinced those are the only five times he’s been to Southern California in the last 10 years. If you haven’t seen him check out what you are missing. (Check out the amazing finger work starting at 2:00).
By the way, I have nothing against Canada or Canadians. I love Hockey (Go Ducks!), Molsen Golden, Rush, The Kids in The Hall, etc…and some day I really want to visit Quebec, it is just that you don’t normally associate Canada with flamenco music.