Hometown: Born in Paris, France, and raised in Toronto
The car: 2003 Audi A6 sedan
Burst onto the world music scene with 1995’s Tempest
Won a Juno Award in the Best Instrumental Album category for Free Fall in 2001
Three-time recipient of the Canadian Smooth Jazz Award for Guitarist of the Year
His eighth studio album, The Blue Guitar Sessions, is on sale
Worldwide tour with dates in Poland and Estonia this month, followed by Canadian tour dates including stops at Toronto’s Massey Hall on Nov. 22; in Saint John, N.B., Nov. 14; Ottawa Nov. 28; Quebec City Dec. 1; Saskatoon Dec. 9; Vancouver Dec. 16
Jesse Cook is an award-winning guitarist who has sold more than one million albums globally and starred in sold-out concerts around the world from Singapore and Dubai to Italy and Lebanon.
His eighth CD, The Blue Guitar Sessions, just hit Canadian stores – it’s a departure from his traditional fiery, flamenco style. And now he’s jet-setting on an extensive concert tour.
When he returns to play gigs in and near his Toronto home, he’ll take his own wheels – a 2003 Audi A6 sedan.
Why did you buy an Audi A6?
I bought this car mostly because we have a place up north. It’s in the forest and you have to leave the main road. I had a Honda Prelude before and I got stuck at the bottom of the hill all the time.
I loved the Prelude, but we’d park it on the main road and hike in. It just didn’t make sense. I had a family and suddenly I needed a sedan.
The things I like about Audi – Quattro is very important, it has a million controls monitoring the road figuring out how it needs to compensate for my lack of experience and it has a great sound system.
I mix my own records and sound is incredibly important to me. I know what the records sound like on expensive studio monitors – acoustically perfect. But in the real world it’s different. It’s enhanced. In the Audi, the sound envelops you. I mix it in my studio and I do all the mastering in my car.
I drive around for hours making notes. It’s weird – people must think I’m stalking them. ‘Honey, who is that man parked in front of our house? He has been sitting there for 20 minutes playing music really loud.’
It meets a whole lot of needs. But I don’t like the way it looks. It almost looks like a mole. It doesn’t say excitement. To be honest with you, I wanted a Jag. I think they’re beautiful cars, especially the recent ones. And they are no longer leaving oil spills in your driveway. I wanted one of those, but my wife said, ‘No. no. no. Those are for old people.’ So I ended up with a very understated car.
If it doesn’t say excitement, what does it say?
It says I’m not 25 any more. It says my car is not how I define myself at the end of the day.
What was the first car you drove?
The first car I learned to drive on was in France. I was 13 and I was in a field with big huge bumps. It was a Citroën – a red plastic jeep. It was standard, of course – that weird European standard. It was so much fun and scary when you’re a kid.
What was the first car you bought?
I bought a Honda Accord. It was used.
I was a starving musician in my early 20s. I owned it for five months and then I bought a house and realized I can’t afford to make mortgage payments and car payments. So I had to sell the car.
It was so sad. When you get a car there’s this sense that the world is your oyster. I had that feeling for about five months and then I had to sell it. That was a sad day.
The next car I bought was another Honda Accord. After that, I got a Prelude – it looked like a Porsche, which is probably what I really wanted. And the next time I bought a car was this one.
Why didn’t you buy another Honda?
There are times when I go to the Junos or a show and you’re parking in the lot and everyone is checking out what you’re driving. If I drive a K-car I get that look that says, ‘You haven’t arrived yet, my friend.’ I needed a car that says it isn’t a completely mundane car.
Audi makes some beautiful cars, but the A6 is not that one. It’s a family car. It’s much more conservative than I am. If I had my choice, I’d buy a more zippy Audi.
Do you always buy used?
Yes. It’s a terrible investment to buy new. It’s going to depreciate 40 per cent in the first two years.
Until I’m at the point where I’m a gazillionaire I can’t justify it – that 40 pe rcent is important to me. It’s savings – it’s my kids’ education.
I’m happy to buy a used car. And honestly I drive them into the ground. I’m always amazed at people who flip a car every three years. I just think that’s a lot of money to pay for that new-car smell, which apparently you can spray in it.
What’s your best driving story ever?
Back in my 20s, I was dating a girl and she had a really old Chevette. She bought it for $500 and we loaded it up with our bikes and camping gear and we drove it out to the East Coast.
I’d always wanted to drive the Cabot Trail – we get there in this loaded Chevette, putting down the Cabot Trail and we’d go up a hill and this thing would slow down. Big trucks would pass us and honk, ‘Why are you going on this road?’ It was so sad. It was living the dream, but with the wrong vehicle.
If I could bring you the keys to any car, what would it be?
I love the Jags from three years ago with the vintage look and the huge grille at the front. They’re beautiful cars. They’re a throwback to another era when cars were objects of art. I’m not sure what motivates car designers now.
I’d take a classic car any day – maybe an old MG.
I know it’s sad, it should be a Lamborghini or a Ferrari, but when I was a kid, my mom’s boyfriend collected cars. He had a Lotus and I remember he took us on the highway and we went 120 miles an hour. It was really fast – as kids we were like, ‘Wow! Lets do it again!’
Then he sold it and bought a Ferrari. We didn’t want him to sell the Lotus. We didn’t know a Ferrari is a better car than a Lotus so we actually keyed the car before he sold it. We went out with our keys to try to get the person who was buying the Lotus to not buy it – it’s the kind of stupid thing a kid would do. If we scratch it, the guy won’t buy it. In the end, it made no difference.