Entertainment Features

Jesse Cook - Libre Tour 2023

Jesse Cook - Libre Tour 2023

As a multi-Platinum/Gold award-winning and internationally acclaimed virtuoso guitarist, producer, composer, and filmmaker, Toronto’s Jesse Cook had grown accustomed to travelling to exotic and far-flung places to find creative inspiration to inject into his wholly unique hybrid of Flamenco fusion music. However, thanks to the pandemic lockdown, the Juno Award winning artist found inspiration for his latest album a little closer to home – sharing long summer day drives with his 14-year-old.


“My daughter entertained me with her favourite playlists, much of which were trap and 808-inspired,” said Cook, winner of three Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, a Juno, A Gemini, and an Acoustic Guitar Magazine Player’s Choice Silver Award. “I love them too, and a question was planted in my mind: ‘what would my music sound like mixed with those sounds?’”


Cook discovered the answer to that question with the release of his 11th studio album, Libre. Recorded during the pandemic and released in December 2021, the album features 10 tracks that combine Cook’s iconic Spanish guitar flair with Algerian multi-instrumentalist Fethi Nadjem, modern trap rhythms, 808 beats, and an underlying theme of the joys of physical and emotional liberation.


Libre reflects a particular time. We were all coming out of COVID. There’s a lot of music that feels like it’s just kind of soaring, like I’m trying to fly away. That’s why I called it Libre. I felt like everyone was trying to break free from their own homes. I don’t know if I’m yet at the place where I can give any kind of evaluation of where the record stands. It was a lot of work. For me it probably helped me maintain my sanity during all that time at home.”


While Cook was scheduled to bring his Tempest II tour to St. Catharines prior to the lockdown, it’s The Libre Tour that fans will be enjoying when Jesse and his extraordinary band bring their unique brand of rhythm and rhumba to Partridge Hall. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of his earlier work or someone recently introduced to his music through the release of Libre, Cook says the tour will span his entire catalogue so there’s something for everyone.


“St. Catharines missed the Tempest tour, which was going to be a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the release of Tempest, my first CD. The set list for this tour is going to be a mix of old songs and new songs. There is definitely going to be some new songs from Libre, but I also realize people will want to hear some of their older favourites.”


For Cook, the real joy of being back on tour is simply being able to perform his music accompanied by his fellow musicians. However, he’s also happy to be engaging with fans in a live setting, and he’s looking forward to taking audiences on a musical journey


“I really missed performing. Just even playing with other musicians rather than playing in front of an audience. I remember the first few times we got back together as a band to rehearse I was almost crying. Just to play something and have them react to it, and then you react back. It was like a conversation. When you’re by yourself it’s not much of a conversation. It’s a monologue. I’m happy to get back on the road and have the audience become part of that conversation. For me I always hope the audience at the end of the night winds up on their feet dancing and giving themselves over to the music. When they’re sitting, they’re still in that polite place. They’re still feeling bound by social constraints. The more we can break free from that and kind of celebrate music and life, that’s when the concert becomes magic.”