Saturday, March 6, 2010

Jesse Cook-The Second Time Around

No quotes this time. Just another memory of a great concert. I decided to make the trip to Toronto to see Jesse Cook again, because I was curious about the contrast of what would be a much larger venue then the smaller one I had seen him at in October. Also being Toronto is his hometown, I had a feeling it would be even more lively. Turned out I was right. As much as I enjoyed the October show, this one was even more incredible.

I wasn't taking notes, so I cannot quote all the songs played, but can share some of the experience. It started with Bombay Diner which included a haunting flute played by Chris Church (another last minute learning experience). There were additional percussionists, an accordion player who hadn't been with him in the US due to issues with getting his citizenship and Amanda Martinez who sang with an aching beauty.

Where Jesse certainly has a structure that he uses in sharing experiences with his concert audience, this time you could tell there was more even more warmth and spontaneity. While he certainly 'moved well' in could tell he may have been taking lessons from his wife who is a flamenco dancer. The boy can keep a great rhythm with his body (not something all musicians are good at surprisingly). He was a full participant in the Rumba Dance Party he always stirs the audience into sharing with the band. What was also moving was his genuine humility and delight with sharing his music with his hometown and his family/friends.

Again I took great joy in the camaraderie he shares with his band. There was an generosity, sense of fun and humor. An example of of this was when the audience was cheering Chris Church for his accomplish for learning the flute mentioned early. He ribbed him along the lines of "don't do that, he'll get a swelled head." It was said very tongue in cheek. Oh and did I mention that he took a turn at percussion? He admitted he was addicted to percussion in response to the question why he featured so much in his music. Makes me want to see what he would do with the Japanese drumming group, "Kodo".

He also joked about the success of "Cafe Mocha" in the States. He sees it just as one of his more obscure songs, nothing special. That is when it was being he found out it was going to be played on smooth jazz, he couldn't exactly figure out "how did the damn thing go to number one being it was neither smooth nor jazz". But he was clearly appreciative that it did.

The tenderest moment in the concert was when he shared about his family and former guitar teachers being there. He tried to get them to bring up the house lights so he could have his teacher(s) stand up, but they weren't able to oblige and he had to press forward. Press forward he did and it ended with us all on our feet dancing. You could tell that Toronto carries him in their hearts. Two standing ovations were done with the final one being "Cecilia". It brought us into the intimacy of his music and why he does what he does. I just count myself lucky for being weird enough to love his music (he spoke of his music being weird/off the beaten track and we must therefore be weird to follow him). His work inspires me to keep exploring world fusion music with my harp. And on that note, I cannot wait to see what his next explorations bring.

As I was walking out I overheard someone ask a question that I wished they had voiced during his usual question and answer session. They wanted to know where he found his inspirations and the musicians he works with. Now that would be a conversation worth having....

Thanks Jesse for the break from my Mom's stuff and the renewal....

Here's a look at the making of his current album, "The Rumba Foundation":

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