Henry Coker

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Henry Coker (December 24, 1919 – November 23, 1979) was an American jazz trombonist.

Coker was born in Dallas. He studied music at Wellesley College before making his professional debut with John White in 1935. From 1937 to 1939 he played with Nat Towles's territory band, then moved to Hawaii to play with Monk McFay. After Pearl Harbor he returned to California, playing with Benny Carter (1944–46), Illinois Jacquet (1945), Eddie Heywood (1946–47), and Charles Mingus (late '40s). He fell ill from 1949–51 and played little, and after his recovery he worked with Sonny Rollins and then joined Count Basie's band, playing and recording with him from 1952 to 1963.

Coker did work as a studio musician in the 1960s, then toured with Ray Charles from 1966 to 1971. He did freelance and film/television studio work in the mid-1970s, rejoining Basie briefly in 1973 and Charles in 1976. Osie Johnson wrote a tribute to him entitled "Cokernut Tree" in 1955. Coker appeared on J.J. Johnson's Trombones Incorporated session, featuring ten trombonists.

He died in Los Angeles, aged 59.


Coker had two sons, Scott Cameron Coker who resides in Brooklyn N.Y., and Craig Henry Coker (August 15, 1960 – January 10, 2013).


With Dizzy Gillespie