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, he has proven indispensable to some of the world’s most acclaimed jazz groups, including the Grammy-nominated Miguel Zenón Quartet, Grammy winner David Sánchez, the Alfredo Rodriguez Trio, and the quartet 90 Miles featuring Sánchez, Stefon Harris, and Nicholas Payton.
Cole has also asserted himself as leader of the Afro-Beat Collective, striving to integrate all his varied influences, including Puerto Rican folklore, funk, R&B, jazz and Afro-Caribbean rhythmic traditions. The San Jose Mercury News praises Cole’s “explosively detailed” playing, and All About Jazz notes his ability to “make instantaneous, organic adjustments at every turn.” In a Modern Drummer article, Cole was cited as an outstanding young player to watch by illustrious drummers Alex Acuña, John Riley, and Antonio Sanchez, and his visionary approach was highlighted in a JazzTimes feature.
Born in 1979 in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, Cole relocated to San Juan in 1999 to study classical percussion at the Conservatorio de Musica de Puerto Rico. He began his jazz immersion at Berklee College of Music in 1998, but soon returned to San Juan, becoming one of the most influential jazz drummers on the island. During this time Cole worked 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 more.
In 2003, Cole received a scholarship to attend the Manhattan School of Music and study with the great John Riley. Since graduating, Cole 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, Perico Sambeat, Paquito D’Rivera, David “Fathead” Newman, Kenny Werner, Mark Turner, Alfredo Rodriguez, Viento de Agua and more. He has toured throughout the U.S. and Europe, Mexico and Central America, Korea, and Japan.
Cole participated in recordings with musicians such as the Fabian Almazan Trio, Soren Moller with Dick Oatts & Kirin Winds, Pete Rodriguez, and Astronauts of Antiquity. His work with dancer and choreographer Noemí Segarra includes the evening-length collaborative piece “De Rumbo De Rumba” and his quartet has taken part in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rhythm Road program (a.k.a. Jazz Ambassadors). Additionally, Cole is a sought-after educator, often substituting for his mentor John Riley at MSM and at SUNY Purchase College Conservatory of Music, and has taught master classes and clinics under the auspices of Carnegie Hall, Marsalis Music, and other institutions. He is sponsored by Vic Firth sticks, DW Jazz drums, Latin Percussion (LP), and Zildjian cymbals. His main goal is to see music as One World, a space beyond styles, reaching out to audiences of all kinds with a message of determination and unity.