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Henry Cole

Drummer Henry Cole is at the forefront of a growing wave of jazz innovation and cross-cultural rhythm in the 21st century. With his flexibility, grace and sheer power behind the drum kit, he has proven indispensable to the sound of some of the world’s most acclaimed jazz groups, including the Grammy-nominated Miguel Zenón Quartet (Awake, Esta Plena, Alma Adentro]), Grammy winner David Sánchez (Cultural Survival), the Edward Simon Trio, and the all-star quartet “90 Miles” featuring Sánchez, Stefon Harris and Christian Scott. Henry is also asserting himself as leader of the Afro-Beat Collective, which releases its debut album Roots Before Branches in 2012. Drawing on the raw groove and momentum of Fela Anikulapo Kuti as well as the depth and complexity of modern jazz, Henry strives with the Afro Beat Collective to integrate all his varied influences, including Puerto Rican folklore, funk and R&B, jazz and Afro- Caribbean rhythmic traditions. The San Jose Mercury News praises Henry’s “explosively detailed” playing, and All About Jazz notes his ability to “make instantaneous, organic adjustments at every turn.” In an article for Modern Drummer titled “The Future of Drumming” (January 2006), Henry was cited as an outstanding young player to watch by illustrious fellow drummers Alex Acuña, John Riley and Antonio Sanchez. In a 2009 JazzTimesmagazine feature, journalist Fernando Gonzalez explored Henry’s visionary approach, his translation of Puerto Rico’s street-style pandero requinto drumming to the drum set is just one example of Henry’s bridging of traditions and disciplines in the service of a unique individual sound. Born in 1979 and raised in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, Henry relocated to San Juan in 1999 to study classical percussion at the Conservatorio de Musica de Puerto Rico. He began his jazz immersion at Boston’s Berklee College of Music in 1998, but soon returned to San Juan, where he became one of the most in-demand and influential jazz drummers on the island. There he gained pivotal, formative experience in the varied music scene of Old San Juan: “It was very small,” Henry recalls, “but it had all styles and genres, so it was easy to go from one to the other and learn from all. I was playing rock, salsa, jazz, electronic music, all in the same week. That’s college right there.” During this time Henry worked extensively within and beyond the world of jazz, with artists such as Giovanni Hidalgo, Dave Valentin, Jerry Gonzalez, Danilo Pérez, Branford Marsalis, Luis Marin, William Cepeda’s Afro-Rican Jazz, salsa artists La PVC, the rock band Vivanativa and many more.

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Album Review

Miguel Zenon: Musica De Las Americas

Read "Musica De Las Americas" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon has made a career out of exploring his Puerto Rican roots, with albums like Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook (Marsalis Music, 2011), Tipico (Miel Music, 2017) and Yo Soy La Tradicion (Miel Music, 2018). With Musica De Las Americas he broadens his vision to celebrate the history of the American continents, north and south, as well as the multiplicity of America's Atlantic Ocean islands, to delve into the history of this expanse of lands--before and ...

Album Review

Henry Cole and the Afro Beat Collective: Roots Before Branches

Read "Roots Before Branches" reviewed by Mark F. Turner

As a rising jazz drummer in today's environment, Henry Cole's percussive sound has emerged in works with seminal artists such as Miguel Zenón, David Sánchez, and the Le Boeuf Brothers. Like his peers, Cole is challenging old ideas and channeling new concepts into the mix. The debut of Roots Before Branches , with his Afro-Beat Collective, is full of fresh ideas that resist being easily compartmentalized. Inspired by the music of his homeland in Puerto Rico with ...

Album Review

Henry Cole and the Afro Beat Collective: Roots Before Branches

Read "Roots Before Branches" reviewed by James Nadal

There is much to be said about a musician stepping out from his comfort zone as an accomplished and acclaimed sideman to record the music he hears in his head, never forgetting where he came from, but steadfast in focus of where he is going. Henry Cole has rapidly acquired an impressive résumé as a first-call drummer for recording sessions and performance tours. The compilation of all original music on his first release as producer/leader, Roots Before ...

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Morning Song

Adhyaropa Records


Roots Before Branches

Self Produced


Tainos y Caribes

From: Musica De Las Americas
By Henry Cole


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