The San Jose Mercury News praised Henry Cole’s playing as “explosively detailed”, and All About Jazz noted his ability to “make instantaneous, organic adjustments at every turn.” In the article, “The Future of Drumming” by Modern Drummer (January 2006), Henry was cited by notable drummers Alex Acuña, John Riley and Antonio Sanchez as an outstanding young player to watch. In a 2009, JazzTimes Magazine’s journalist, Fernando Gonzalez stated that Henry’s translation of Puerto Rico’s street-style pandero/requinto drumming to the drum set, is just one example, of his ability to bridge traditions and disciplines that create a unique individualized sound.
Born in 1979, and raised in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, 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, his playing has proven indispensable to some of the world’s most acclaimed Jazz groups, including the Grammy winner Quincy Jones, Grammy-nominated Miguel Zenón Quartet (Awake, Esta Plena, Alma Adentro), Grammy winner David Sánchez (Cultural Survival), the Alfredo Rodriguez Trio, and the all-star quartet “90 Miles” featuring David Sánchez, Stefon Harris and Nicholas Payton.
Henry is also the leader of the band, Afro-Beat Collective. Their music draws on the raw groove and momentum of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, as well as the depth and complexity of Modern Jazz. Henry and the Afro Beat Collective strive to integrate varied influences, including Puerto Rican folklore, Funk and R&B, Jazz and Afro-Caribbean rhythmic traditions.
Henry first began his Jazz immersion in 1998 at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He relocated to San Juan in 1999 to study Classical Percussion at the Conservatorio de Musica de Puerto Rico, 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. During this time, he 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 and the rock band Vivanativa, among others.
Relocating to New York in 2003, Henry received a scholarship to attend Manhattan School of Music to study with master drummer John Riley. Since completing his studies, Henry has performed with the likes of Chris Potter, Adam Rogers, Drew Gress, the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Big Band, Ray Barretto, Orlando “Puntilla” Rios, Papo Vazquez, Paquito D’Rivera, and many more.
Henry is also a successful and sought-after educator, often substituting for his mentor John Riley at the Manhattan School of Music and at SUNY Purchase College Conservatory of Music. His quartet has also taken part in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s “Rhythm Road” (a.k.a. “Jazz Ambassadors”) Program, which involves concerts, master classes and lecture-recitals for musicians. In addition, Henry has provided master classes and clinics under the auspices of Carnegie Hall, Marsalis Music and other institutions.