Guitar virtuoso Jesse Cook is returning to the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Nov. 15 to perform songs from his last album One World

Guitar virtuoso Jesse Cook is returning to the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Nov. 15 to perform songs from his last album One World

Guitarist plays for all nations on One World

Jesse Cook is back in Vernon to thrill his fans with his mash-up of cultures and sounds.

Imagine if the ambassadors and politicians in the United Nations General Assembly became armed – with musical instruments.

Instead of providing lip service about cease fires and how to end all plagues affecting humans, they would play music from every corner of the planet to get their point across.

Would togetherness finally become a celebrated notion on this confused Earth?

It would, at least, make for one hell of a jam, believes Paris-born, Toronto-raised musician, producer and composer Jesse Cook.

Considered a world leader when it comes to his instrument of choice, the guitar, Cook melds Middle Eastern, African, Asian, South American and European cultures into one world of sound.

On tour in support of his new album, One World, Cook is returning to the Okanagan and will play a very close to sold-out show at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Tuesday, Nov. 15.

Cook describes One World as a return to his roots, a mash-up of sounds writ large, with some modern-day tweaks including electronic overdubs.

“It’s like Constantinople, it’s a meeting place for all of this music I’ve been learning and playing over the years,” said Cook. “I also wanted to go back to doing something bombastic. I love a good groove.”

Cook is one of the most in-demand world music artists out there. He not only regularly sells out his shows in Canada, but does the same in places as far as United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and more recently Poland.

His popularity was no more apparent than when he played beneath the Petronas twin towers in the Malaysian city of Kuala Lumpur recently.

“The place was packed with people from different religions and cultures. Everyone miraculously got up and shared the same experience. I am really lucky. Music is a sweet gig,” said Cook, adding he is still shocked about the reaction he gets from audiences.

“My first record came out in ‘95. When it came out, I  thought I get one record and then it’s all over. Last year, I played 140 dates and then I started work on the next record. When I’m at home in the quiet, I sometimes think they won’t remember me. They don’t care. But that all disappears once I get on the road again.”

With a big fan base south of the border, Cook normally strays from making his political views public, but he recently voiced his thoughts on the U.S. election, urging people to vote via his Facebook page, and the response, he says, was an eye opener.

“I got some aggressive response with people suddenly saying to stay out of our country’s politics. I didn’t want to say, ‘hey you Republicans, you’re crazy,’ I just wanted to say that if the majority don’t vote, then there won’t be any clarity,” said Cook.

He believes that music is a fabric that can bind us all.

“My wife always says you attract more bees with honey, so we shouldn’t actually hate the people of Islam. In my experience, the people are not terrorists, they actually make beautiful music.”

Cook has even had a hit in the United Arab Emirates.

“In Dubai, there is an Arabic song that I did, I didn’t know what a hit it was until I saw that it made the Top 2 there above Madonna and Linkin Park,” he laughed.

“If you’ve studied music history, you know that all music is influenced from somewhere else. The rhythms of Africa can be heard in rock and pop. It’s the evolution of music, mixing it with European instrumentals and sensibilities.”

And although most of his compositions are instrumental, Cook has seen success doing covers of popular songs such as Fall at your Feet, the Crowded House original, which was sung by Danny Wilde of The Rembrandts on Cook’s fourth studio album, Free Fall, as well as a cover of Bob Dylan’s It Ain’t me Babe, sung by Whitehorse’s Melissa McClelland on 2008’s Fronteirs.

Cook is also not shy about supporting the digital evolution of music.

“When I went to study music at Berklee, I actually majored in music synthesis and minored in guitar,” said Cook. “I wanted a career as a composer and loved writing music. To write music that is textured and written large by one guy in his bedroom, you need electronic music and overdubs, so I got into it early on. Back then the Mac had just come out and everyone had one at their desk in the synthesis class. It was a big draw.”

Many of Cook’s albums have included metallic and electronic textured sounds cross-bred with the organic instruments; his 2012 album, The Blue Guitar Sessions being an exception. For that album, he stripped everything down to the basic, and was inspired by the chilled out, melancholy atmosphere that fellow artists such as Adele, Norah Jones, Miles Davis and late singer-songwriter Llasa de Sela captured on their albums.

“On One World, I completely stopped trying to hide it. In this last record, I wanted people to hear those electronic sounds,” he said. “I’ve engineered most of my albums, and I have to say this is the best sounding record I’ve ever made.”

For his One World tour, Cook’s fans will be happy to hear that his long-time band members Chris Church (on violin, percussion and vocals), bassist Dennis Mohammed, guitarist Nicolas Hernandez and percussionist Chendy Leon will be joining him.

Tickets for the Nov. 15 show at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre are very limited (at press time only back balcony seats were being sold). Contact the Ticket Seller box office at 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca for availability.