Henry Cole is a shape-shifting drummer whose versatile, multicultural style positions him at the forefront of a growing wave of jazz innovation and cross-cultural 21st-century rhythms.
A Grammy award winner, master drummer and skilled arranger he draws inspiration from a long line of highly skilled Boricua Pioneers who performed in local, military and jazz bands. His sonic roots – African, Indigenous and European – have been brewing for years and have come together to create a unique, mestizo sound.
A native of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Cole started playing the piano at the age of four and fell in love with the drums at the age of nine. The musical romance led to La Escuela de Musica de Mayaguez and the Conservatory de Musica de Puerto Rico.
Initially inspired by Latin percussionists Giovanni Hidalgo and Anthony Carrillo, Cole discovered a passion for Jazz and improvised music while attending Berklee College of Music in Boston. After moving back to Puerto Rico, Cole cultivated a reputation in Old San Juan’s diverse music scene, working with poets, rappers, bomba musicians, pleneros, rockers, and salsa ringleaders.
In the fall of 2003, Cole moved to New York City to attend the prestigious Manhattan School of Music where he received a scholarship to study with drummer, composer John Riley and quickly became one of the most in-demand sidemen.
Henry is an innovative, explosive drummer who takes Jazz to a never-before-explored dimension. Inspired by the album “Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Africa ’70 with Ginger Baker,” (1971) his debut album titled “Roots Before Branches” (2012) drew praise from National Public Radio, who selected it as “One of the Five New Directions in Jazz Evolution,” and living legend Chick Corea, applauded Henry for “beautifully expanding on the traditions he grew up with.”
In 2018 Henry released the single, “El Diablo” from the upcoming album, “Simple” with his new group Villa Locura, where he combines a wide variety of musical influences such as Puerto Rican folklore, funk, R&B, jazz, and Afro-Caribbean rhythms and creates a unique genre that bridges the traditional with the contemporary. He defines Villa Locura as “Raw, Spiritual, Interstellar Puertorican Funk!”
Literally and figuratively, Henry Cole is taking Puerto Rican “sabor” (flavor) to new, unexpected heights. His flexibility, grace and sheer power behind the drum-kit has proven indispensable to some of the world’s most acclaimed jazz groups, including the Grammy-nominated Miguel Zenón Quartet, Grammy Award winner David Sánchez, The Gary Burton Quartet, Quincy Jone’s Global Gumbo, Fabian Almazan Rhizome, The Ben Wendel Quartet, the all-star quartet “90 Miles” featuring Sánchez, Stefon Harris and Nicholas Payton, alto saxophonist Wil Vinson and the pianist Chano Domínguez, a living legend of new flamenco. Also, Henry has recorded and performed with Chambao, Calle13, Residente and Draco Rosa.
A unique musician and spiritualist, Henry takes a holistic approach to his craft. “I practice, exercise, study and try to maintain a healthy. I expose myself to many artists, from Giovanni Hidalgo to Virgil Donati, Zakir Hussein, The Wailers, Camaron, Felix Alduen and Kanye West. I also study the works of Einstein, Newton, Michelangelo, Joseph Campbell, Eric Thomas, Napoleon Hill, Taoism, Kobe Bryant, and the legendary martial artist, Bruce Lee.”
In 2011 Henry’s work with Miguel Zenon was nominated for Best Large Jazz Ensemble. Also, he was awarded the Grammy for the Best Urban Rap Album with Calle 13. In 2017 Miguel Zenon Quartet’s “Tipico” was nominated for Best Latin Jazz Album, and Residente’s self-titled album won the Grammy for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Music.
Henry Cole teaches private lessons, workshops and master classes around the world. He is an associate professor at Manhattan School Of Music, The New School, Academia Nazionale del Jazz, Sienna, Englesholm Jazz Camp in Denmark and an official Clinician for DW Drums.
Henry Cole’s primary goal is to see music as “One World,” a space beyond styles and reach a broad audience with a message of determination and unity.
In seven-plus decades of listening to jazz and great music — knowing
Max Roach, Buddy Rich, Billy Higgins, Louis Bellson, Alex Acuna,
Joe LaBarbera, Roy McCurdy, and other world-class percussionists —
I can attest to the singular fact that Henry Cole is among those elite Magicians. The unrivaled complexity of his multi-layered rhythmic drive
is astonishing in its intricacy, allure and stunning percussive coherence.
— Jim Merod (BluePort Jazz & Soka University)
“Henry Cole’s seminars presents amazing displays of technique and musicality with the unique ability to get others to see their personal experience as valid.” – Skip Hadden
“In bringing stylized traditions of Puerto Rico and Afro-beat together, Cole has made something entirely new.” -Nextbop.com
“Cole’s music is so interesting because it is difficult to identify exactly which language he is speaking, musically. What is the feel he is employing, culturally? Which cultural heritage(s) does he identify himself with? This upcoming album leaves these questions beautifully unanswered.” -Nextbop.com
“The importance of Cole’s concepts is measured from the moment he is considered one of the most complete and exciting drummers in the context of Latin jazz.” – Rafael Vega Curry
Henry is definitely one of the greatest drummers I ever heard.”
– -Claude Nobs ( Founder Montreux Jazz Festival)
“Henry Cole, a young and eclectic percussionist from Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, possessor of an energetic and universal sense of rhythm. Due to his sensitivity and versatility, he is one of the most requested percussionists by artists of all musical genres without the need to tie himself to one in particular.” – Mundo Jazz