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It would be weird to deny the computer a place on a modern album, would it not? Jesse Cook thinks so, though it’s somewhat unexpected to hear him voice it.

The Paris-born, Toronto-based acoustic guitar genius is one of North America’s biggest success stories in that overly broad category known as “world music.” For 20 years he’s travelled the globe, bringing cultures and worlds together in a distinctive blend of genres encompassing flamenco, classical, rumba, world beat, pop, blues, and jazz. Electronic music is not on that list, and is indeed far from the acoustic roots of his albums. But lest fans worry, Cook didn’t hop aboard the EDM bandwagon on his latest album, One World! He simply stopped worrying about hiding the technology behind the music.

“I think I’ve always had an element of technology in my music,” Cook tells CentreStage, “but I kept it much lower than the more acoustic and world music elements.”

While recording One World! in Toronto – which itself is a change after travelling to Cairo, Bogota, and elsewhere to record previous albums – the musician and producer embraced looping technology in the studio as a way of incorporating more instrumentation.

In the ‘90s, when his recording career began, Cook says people resented their computers because they were utilitarian objects used for spreadsheets and other work-related tasks. Today, he says with a laugh, “people express themselves through their computers and they’re posting their Facebook pictures and they’re having affairs on Ashley Madison. All sorts of fun and excitement, or maybe not so much fun and excitement, is happening on the computer. I think with technology, it’s fine to give it a voice and, in fact, it’s almost weird not to.”

Told that he’s bringing these new sounds to the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, he seemed taken aback. “Oh my god, I didn’t know that,” he exclaimed in surprise, having assumed he would be on the familiar stage at Centre for the Arts, Brock University when his tour comes through St. Catharines on Dec. 4th. “Those things are not cheap, those big state-of-the-art facilities, but when they build a great theatre and you get to be one of the first people in there it’s an honour for sure.”

While in the studio the goal is to keep evolving, on stage, it’s about having fun. “People who haven’t seen me before often imagine that this is going to be a very serious guitar concert and we should bring our opera glasses, but in fact, it is not like that. Pretty much every night, people end up on their feet dancing by the end of the show.”

- Michael Raine

“Jesse Cook is Canada’s King of the rumba flamenco… Cook lights a Mediterranean fire in the Great White North.”

– Chatelaine

Jesse Cook One World! Partridge Hall MEMBERS: $52.70 REGULAR: $62

7:30PM Fri 4 Dec 39 CENTRESTAGE

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