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Henry Cook

Henry Cook is a multi-reed player, whose instruments include alto and baritone saxophones, flute, alto and bass flutes, and a variety of folk woodwinds. His passion for many styles of music, including blues, funk, latin as well as African and Arabic musical forms have given him a very eclectic and personal approach to playing.

After studying with Joe Viola at the Berklee college of music in the early eighties, he began his career in Boston playing with the Billy Skinner Double Jazz Quartet. The band worked together for almost ten years, performing regularly at the legendary Wally's Cafe, and playing festivals throughout the Northeast, as well as England and Northern Ireland. They recorded a CD, "Kosen Rufu" which was a hit on jazz radio, and garnered great reviews in the major jazz magazines.

In 1991 Cook formed his own band with Bobby Ward, the legendary Boston drummer. The band was featured at many festivals in the New York-New England area. Their 1994 Cd "Dimensional Odyssey" won the Boston Music Award for "best indie jazz record", and was a critical success, earning four stars in Downbeat magazine. In 1994 Cook was invited to the Cork Jazz Festival in Ireland as a guest soloist, where he played with a number of rising European stars. In 1996 the band did a tour in Mexico, including performances at the San Miguel de Allende Jazz Festival. During this same period, Cook was one of the mainstays of his friend Salim Washington's Roxbury Blues Aesthetic, performing weekly at the historic Connolly's for a number of years. This band played many important venues, including a regular concert series at the Institute of Contemporary Art. The band also performed and held clinics at area colleges and universities.

In 2001 Cook joined the Either/Orchestra, winner of over a dozen "rising star" polls in Downbeat magazine. They toured throughout the United States, and in 2004 traveled to Ethiopia to play and record at the Ethiopian International Music Festival. The concert was recorded and released on the Buda label as "Ethiopiques 20". In Addis, Cook met a number of local musicians, and took some lessons on the Ethiopian flute, the Washint. This was the beginning of an intense period of discovery and study. When he returned to Boston, he began to make his own Washints, and has since done in-depth reaserch into building and playing Washints. He has built over 400 Washints in all keys and inversions, always staying true to the Ethiopian scales. In February 2008 he met the father of Ethio-jazz, Mulatu Astatke. After maestro Astatke heard Cook playing the Washint, he asked him to join him in the studio for his new recording.

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“This lean, mean band plays with such swaggering conviction you'd swear they're all household names. Instead, they are: Henry Cook, who has been part of the Boston scene as both player and teacher for many years, and who plays his saxophones and flutes with exuberant vertical volatility, b:Cecil Brooks (the trumpeter, not the drummer) formerly of the Sun Ra Arkestra, a daredevil who makes action paintings in every solo, with long lines intersected by spattering runs...e: Bobby Ward, who comes from the great Boston drum tradition (Haynes, Dawson, Williams) and who's pointillistic cymbals do not so much keep time as illuminate fields of energy. Dimensional Odyssey, recorded live at the Willow, has all the pop and electricity found only on live albums. Yet Cook's group takes a disciplined approach to raising hell. Cook (on soprano) and Brooks execute the careening hairpin turns of the opening "Arabesque" like two formula-one cars wheel-to-wheel, then split apart to streak down separate tracks.”

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