Jesse Cook, who loves playing old theatres like the Royal, steps onto the Victoria stage June 26 as part of the TD Victoria Internatioanl JazzFest. Photo courtesy Victoria Jazz Society

The camera’s on Jesse Cook (and maybe you!)

Canadian guitarist and June 26 JazzFest performer enjoys connecting with audiences in various ways

Don’t be surprised to see someone filming flamenco/world music/jazz guitarist Jesse Cook’s performance during the 2019 TD Victoria International JazzFest – and not just that annoying person holding their cellphone up in front of you.

Cook, who plays the Royal Theatre on June 26, likes recording he and his band’s personal connection with the audience. So much so that he and his crew embarked upon a project that saw pieces of every concert on his recent cross-Canada tour filmed – plus many moments in between – and edited into an amazing concert documentary for PBS called Beyond Borders – the same as his 2017 album.

“It was several years ago out on tour in B.C., we were in Nanaimo the night Leonard Cohen passed away (Nov. 7, 2016),” he recalls of the project’s germination. “It was one of those things where we were all feeling sad and wanting to express those feelings, and the guys in the band suggested we play “Hallelujah.” It was kind of this amazing thing, the audience started singing right from the start.”

A roadie, William (B.J.) Went, wound up shooting the performance and the audience reaction that night with a handheld camera. The result was shaky, Cook said, “but there was something beautiful about it, as a film thing, out there on stage with the performers, something incredibly real and honest about it.”

Cook has been making his own videos for years, but that experience expanded his thinking about it and prompted him to get Went a steady-cam and lighting, and the rest is history – with more to come.

As for being invited to play JazzFest, despite not being a traditional jazz player, Cook said, “I love it when we’re invited to play in different formats. The jazz music of today really is a hybrid that is pushing into world music, so I feel there is a lot of what I do that draws on jazz.”

He admits being influenced by his early days attending the renowned Berklee College in Boston, where he studied the genre.

Cook and his band played 150 shows to promote 2017’s Beyond Borders – a truly world tour that included Saudi Arabia and wound up in late April in Quebec. He’s enjoying a bit of a break from touring, spending precious time with his wife and children, but finds himself thinking about other ways of getting the music out there.

“For years the formula has been to make a new record, then go out and tour it. But the world is changing and the industry is changing. I’m doing more collaborations, making documentaries, maybe we’ll release them as singles or YouTube videos. And if that adds up to a new album, that’s fine.”

You can find tickets to An Evening with Jesse Cook online at jazzvictoria.ca or by calling the JazzFest office at 250-388-4423.



editor@mondaymag.com

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