Piano Spotlight: Cory Henry

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Cory Henry is amongst the ranks of new jazz, gospel, and r&b musicians like Robert Glasper and Esperanza Spalding paving the way for new waves of the genres.

Life

Cory Henry was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. As a child he spent much of his time in the local church, which had a large community of musicians. Before he started playing organ in the church at the age of two, his friends and family say that he would bang on pots and pans, sing, and play on neighbors’ pianos every chance he could. Cory continued to play organ, piano, and Rhodes through school until his father passed away; Cory did not attend his 8th grade year of schooling, having decided to leave school to continue his musical education and growth.

From then on, Cory dedicated his life to learning and honing his skills as a musician, producer, and composer. He has since performed with some of the best of the jazz, fusion, gospel, and r&b worlds, such as Snarky Puppy, The Roots, Boyz 2 Men, NAS, Derrick Hodge, Robert Glasper, Lalah Hathaway, Bruce Springsteen, and many more.

Cory Henry released his latest album, First Steps, on July 21, 2014.

Influence

With his work in groups like Snarky Puppy, Cory Henry is bound to have an effect on young musicians, especially those in his own community. As a prodigy and new force in today’s instrumental and vocal music, Cory is putting his own stamp on much of the music we love.

Style & Technique

Cory Henry never went through what most people would consider formal training in piano or organ. Much of Cory’s training consisted of listening to music as a child; everything from jazz greats like Oscar Peterson to church music were influences on his style of playing. Though he has not been through much “proper” training, his technical skills and harmonic knowledge are mature and widely developed. Cory’s touch is light, but his feel for groove and pocket with a band or in a solo piece is heavy and strict. His harmonic knowledge is vast, changing with each keyboard instrument he plays; Cory believes that each instrument, piano, organ, Rhodes, etc., are all different instruments with different sets of required technique and skills. Cory’s improvisation can be bluesy, soulful, out, and all of the above depending on what he’s playing, though he always comes back to a church-like improvisation through his solos.

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          February 10, 2018