Bogota By Bus and Spanish By Strings

Friday, January 23, 2015 Of Minds And Mixtapes 0 Comments

Even though most of us don’t get the opportunity to dine in the caf├ęs of Madrid or dance in the clubs of Havana, it is possible to experience a sense of that cultural vibe wherever we are, through music. A few notes can transport you to another place, another time.
One such musician is Berklee alumni Jesse Cook, a Canadian guitarist. An underrated guitarist, actually. His music sounds more gypsy and Spanish than Western, and he's got this awesome compositional flair and trademark smooth jazz collection that makes you like him instantly. 'Fast' may not always equal 'good' but Jesse Cook's performance is amazing, coz it's more than modestly flashy and fast --it's expressive and neat. Check it out here in this upbeat song called Bogota By Bus from his 2009 album The Rumba Foundation:

Apart from top notch performances devoid of singing, Cook has an impressive lyrical collection of covers with his band. An acoustic, un-miked Crowded House's "Fall At Your Feet" live at the Rose Theatre in 2012 reveals that Chris Church is a powerful singer in his own right and has a masterful skill at accompanying Cook. The sound is completely natural and unamplified -- the best cover of the song so far.

Fellow Canadian Johannes Linstead is also a firmly established guitarist in his own right. From being named Canada’s 'Guitarist of the Year', to winning seven Best Album awards, six top-ten Billboard charting albums, and winning the 'People’s Choice' award in the UK, Linstead has made his mark.

Another noteworthy musician who can strike a Spanish tune despite being German is Govi. Although a native of Germany, Govi spent eight years living in India where he learnt the mandolin, mandocello, sitar, bouzouki, charango and the 8-string ukulele.

Of all the guitar thriving cultures around the world, the Spanish music scene rests heavily on the guitar owing to the flamenco-- a folk music and dance form. Flamenco is an essential part of Spanish cuture but has become popular all over the world in recent years. In 2010, UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, right alongside Argentina's Tango; China's Dragon Boat Festival; and India's tradition of Vedic Chanting and the Ramlila, among others.

Mumbai to Mississippi to Norway to Namibia: the guitar is a widely played instrument cutting across diverse cultures and people. And since these tunes don’t have lyrics, the music transcends language and emotional barriers. Many guitarists try to be the name behind the next popular piece of music, but only a select handful of guitarists manage to be recognized as soloists, getting an occasional solo slot alongside the regular performances as accompanists. In an industry full of explosive overnight successes, it is rare to see three musicians with almost seventy years of guitaring between them, take you on an excursion of sounds vernacular to a part of the world other than their hometown, further attesting to the fact that music goes beyond boundaries.