There's a reason why all the seats were empty halfway through Jesse Cook's set at the fabled Greek Theatre last Saturday night (September 26). The prodigious guitarist had told the Wavefest crowd that the rest of the show, hosted by Los Angeles radio station 94.7 The Wave, would be comprised entirely of dance tunes. The Juno award-winner and his band delivered by serving up a sumptuous feast of infectious rumba flamenco rhythms that kept joyous punters on their feet for the remainder of the concert that featured songs from Cooks The Rumba Foundation album, which E1 Music released Tuesday (September 29). And they say L.A. crowds are tough.
The night before, Cook performed at an in-store at Borders in Los Angeles at the same time The Rumba Foundation premiered in its entirety via nationally syndicated radio. Thus the stage was set and fans were anxious to scoop up Cooks eighth recording opus. On the opening day of release, The Rumba Foundation rocketed to #1 on iTunes Canada Album Chart (Madonna was #2), #2 on iTunes USA World Music chart, and #3 on Amazon's Jazz Album chart.
Ready to entertain, enthrall and enrapture listeners, Cook will support The Rumba Foundation with a concert trek that commences this week with four sold-out shows at Seattles Triple Door (October 1st & 2nd) and runs through the end of January.
Cook wrote or co-wrote a dozen compositions for The Rumba Foundation that vary in tempo and tone yet maintain authenticity. Tracks like the first radio single, Bogot By Bus, Santa Marta, Gaita and the cinematic Bombay Diner set the mood for mystery, exploration and celebration. Featuring Latin Grammy winners Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, Manolos Lament is a simple yet genuine jam that repeats like a trance-inducing chant. Tuesdays Child, Rain Day and Homebound are sparsely produced, pensive and strikingly beautiful. La Rumba Del Jefe and Afternoon at Saties seduce with sensual, exotic grooves. Adding a dose of pure pop to the proceedings is a fun version of Paul Simons Cecilia, which fits the collection perfectly, thanks to its buoyant sing-a-long chorus and handclapping rhythm.
The genesis of The Rumba Foundation can be traced back to the 1800s when sailors arrived in Spain with a new rhythm from Cuba: rumba. Spanish gypsies mixed the festive, danceable rhythms with their flamenco to create rumba flamenca. Cook intended to bring rumba flamenco back to the Americas, but was drawn to record in Colombia with Los Gaiteros, a traditional Cumbia outfit that makes their own instruments. Without knowing it, leaving home in Toronto to record in Colombia was the beginning of a cultural exchange that proved far more challenging than expected. Finding common ground between Cooks World Music-pop leanings and the Cumbia unit wasn't easy, but it forced Cook to stretch in unimagined ways and resulted in the creation of what he believes is his finest album to date.