A world of musical surprises in store at Jesse Cook concert

Toronto-based classical guitarist performs Nov. 20 at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre

Mario Takes a Walk has been heard from the Olympics Games to Bollywood, prompting Jesse Cook to joke that some of his songs “have had a more interesting life than me.”

Mario isn’t the only one of his melodies with legs. His Dance of Spring (Live at Metropolis) YouTube video recently racked up more than 1.5 million views — surprising popularity for an instrumental first recorded in 1995.

“When I saw that I thought, oh-oh, that one hasn’t been in the show lately. Maybe I’d better put it in,” said the classical guitarist, who plays at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre on Sunday, Nov. 20.

Another musical revelation awaited Cook when he arrived to perform in Saudi Arabia and Dubai. He discovered one of his songs, Qadukka-l-Mayyas, at No. 3 on local pop charts. “It was above Madonna and Lincoln Park!”

Qadukka-l-Mayyas was taken from a traditional Middle Eastern song he once heard sung a Capella. “I re-imagined it as a rumba,” he explained, and suddenly it’s a hit in Dubai.

With nine studio albums under his belt, Cook was similarly bewildered to learn his live album, Montreal, is his most successful album to date in Poland.

In the world music milieu, you never know, said the Toronto resident, what’s going to go over where. “I love that…”

“I remember once playing in Kuala Lumpur and thinking, I don’t know anything about this country or its people, and here’s this diverse audience and people are dancing up a storm!

“Music is fantastic that way. It brings people together and it really is the universal language,” he added.

Cook plans to dive into newer songs from his latest One World CD as well as some older favourites, including Bogota By Bus, Cafe Mocha, Fall At Your Feet and Tempest, when he performs in Red Deer. He’s glad to be with his seasoned band: violinist Chris Church, percussionist Chendy Leon, fellow flamenco guitarist Nicolas Hernandez and bassist Dennis Mohammed.

Church will also play the difficult-to-master Armenian duduk. The woodwind flute symbolizes the universality of music that can cross cultures, even time, said Cook. “It’s a 2,000 years old instrument and people still love it. It sounds beautiful.”

Tickets are available from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.


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