Quicksilver Puerto Rican drummer Henry Cole knows how Wayne Shorter might have jammed with Fela Kuti. Or what Miles would have done if only he’d gone Afro-Caribbean with his rock-jazz hybrids. He hears how jazz can grab the rootsy sounds of bomba, plena, and Cuban rumba, and sparkle with electro sheen and rock energy.
He hears it, because these sonic roots have been intertwining in Puerto Rico for hundreds of years. “If I had been a Puerto Rican musician playing a few centuries ago, I would have had the same kinds of influences: African, indigenous, European,” Cole explains. “They’ve come together to create mestizo sounds forever, and I’m just carrying that forward.”
Cole & the Afro-Beat Collective on Roots Before Branches (release: March 13, 2012), a gently autobiographical yet firmly funky vision that channels the joie-de-vivre of Cole’s home scene in Puerto Rico and the bright sophistication of New York’s jazz heights. Equally able to jam with a hip hop crew or jazz masters, Cole harnesses his well-honed rhythmic power and his love of catchy, evocative melodies to create a deep, wide-ranging vision of unity, balance, and Afro-Caribbean creativity.