A serious composer with the heart of a roadhouse rocker," (Village Voice) and one of the original figures in the "downtown" scene in New York City, for over twenty-five years Bobby Previte has brought his music many times over to the music festivasl of the world -London, Paris, Istanbul, Rio, Tokyo, Sydney, Copenhagen and Rome being just some examples.
Bobby Previte has released fifteen records of his music, and has appeared as a performer on countless others. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts grants for composition, two grants for composition from the New York Foundation for the Arts, grants from Meet the Composer, numerous private grants, has been five times a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and has been honored as one of the “150 Who Moved Jazz” by Jazziz Magazine.
Bobby Previte has been written about in nearly every major publication worldwide, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, TheWashington Post, LA Times, The Guardian, Der Welt, Sydney Morning Herald, Le Monde, Newsweek, People, and Rolling Stone. He is included in the Oxford “Dictionary of Jazz”, The Penguin “Jazz, the Rough Guide”, “Jazz, The First Century”, Oxford’s “History of Jazz,” Schimer’s “Jazz-The Essential Album Guide”, the “All Music Guide to Jazz,” and has been the subject of chapters for both Francis Davis’ book “Bebop and Nothingness” and Stuart Nicholson’s “Jazz-The Modern Resurgence.” He has been twice interviewed on Terry Gross’ national radio show “Fresh Air,” appeared with William Shatner on “Saturday Night Live” and was “the drummer” in Robert Altman’s landmark film, “Short Cuts.”
Bobby Previte studied music at the University of Buffalo, where the music department included Morton Feldman and John Cage, and majored in percussion under the legendary Jan Williams. He performed with Williams' percussion ensemble in the "Evenings for New Music" series at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery under the direction of Lucas Foss, and was a guest artist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson-Thomas. He received his B.A in 1973, cum laude.
Moving to New York City in 1979, Bobby Previte began his long association with the leading lights of the New York music scene. His first recording, "Bump the Renaissance", was released in 1987, and featured "Nine tunes of striking originality." (Newsweek). In 1987 he released "Pushing the Envelope" on Gramavision Records. The Village Voice said it was "one of the finest releases by a New York artist in 1987."
Bobby Previte composed the soundtrack for Mark Rappaport's "Chain Letters", premiering at the New York Film Festival. 1988 saw the release of "Claude's Late Morning", a breakthrough record that was called "One of the finest of the decade" by Interview Magazine. People Magazine said, "Here is an album worthy of repeated listening, and it comes with the guarantee that you'll hear something new every time." The music from the record was presented live at "New Music America" in 1989, at BAM. In 1989 he was commissioned to write pieces for the String Trio of New York and the Philadelphia based chamber ensemble Relache.
In October of 1990 "Empty Suits" was released on Gramavision, featuring his new band of the same name. "Empty Suits takes you someplace new, with jazz as a compass and the whole of music as a map" wrote Jazziz . In July 1991 Enja Records released an acoustic record for seven instruments, Weather Clear, Track Fast, Also in that year Bobby Previte traveled to Moscow, completing a commission from the Moscow Circus to write the music for their new season, which debuted at the Gershwin Theater, New York City, on November 5, 1991, and Music of the Moscow Circus was released, again on Gramavision. He toured Japan in the summer of 1992 and Europe again in the fall. He arranged the Charles Mingus tune, "Open Letter to Duke" for Hal Willner's Wierd Nightmare-Meditations on Mingus record released on CBS/Sony, and created a new electronic score for the International Puppet Festival which debuted in the fall of 1992 at the Public Theater in New York City.
In 1993 Bobby Previte toured Europe and the Far East, (Japan Music Magazine said, "True contemporary jazz is Bobby Previte") which included concerts in Hong Kong and at the Festival of Perth, Australia, and finished recording another Empty Suits record, "Slay the Suitors", released in May of 1994 by DIW Japan. "Hue and Cry" for septet, and "Dull Bang, Gushing Sound, Human Shriek," a solo electronics record, were released respectively in September of 1994 by Enja Records and in February of 1996 by Koch Jazz.
His circus band opened the North American Music Festival in October, and he produced two records by the virtuoso accordionist Guy Klucevsek. 1994 also saw a winter tour of Europe by Empty Suits and a Contemporary Arts Council tour of Great Britain by the circus band. In March of 1995 he led his seven piece group, "Weather Clear, Track Fast", on a three week tour of Europe, making a new recording, "Too Close to the Pole", which was released in September of 1996, again on Enja. In May he performed in London with the New York Composer's Orchestra. In October he toured France with the French guitarist Marc Ducret.
In 1997 John Adams asked Bobby Previte to assemble an ensemble to premiere his then newest 0pera "I Was Looking at the Ceiling", for Lincoln Center's Serious Fun series, and Previte performed himself as percussionist. In January of 1998 Mr. Previte took a new quartet, Latin for Travelers ("The Wildest Bar Band on the Planet" -Sydney Morning Herald), on tour to Europe and Australia, recording two live records in Sydney, "My Man in Sydney", and "Dangerous Rip", which were released on the Enja label in September 1997 and '98.
Spring 1999, Summer, and Fall 2000 saw a European tour by Previte's new Bump the Renaissance Band, with Ray Anderson, Marty Ehrlich, Wayne Horvitz, and Steve Swallow; completion of a film score to the movie Maze, directed by and starring Rob Morrow; and a west coast tour with the group Ponga a cooperative electronic band with Horvitz, Skerik and Dave Palmer.
Completing a commission from The City of Birmingham, UK for their millennium celebration, Bobby Previte premiered "The 23 Constellations of Joan Miró" on April 7 and 8, 2000 in Manchester and Birmingham, England. This piece was written at the MacDowell Colony and scored for eight musicians with conductor.
A recording of the Bump the Renaissance band, "Just Add Water", was released in January 2002 on Palmetto Records. In February, "The 23 Constellations of Joan Miró" was released on Tzadik records "Composer" series. Ken Smith of Gramophone said, "In the bigger picture, it updates the very spirit of Western Composition." He toured Europe with Elliott Sharp in the fall of 2003 to support "The Prisoner's Dilemma", their duo CD on the Church of Grob Label. April 2003 saw the release of the second record by the Bump the Renaissance band, "Counterclockwise", also on Palmetto, and a tour of Europe followed by an electric version of that band, called, simply enough, "Bump Electric."
Previte and the eight string guitarist Charlie Hunter have been playing together as a duo since 2002 where Previte indulges his newest passion, the Electronic Drums. In 2003 they released their first record, on Ropeadope, called, Come in Red Dog, This is Tango Leader", In October 2003 they tieled their collaboration "Groundtruther", and toured Europe with Greg Osby as their guest. A new trilogy by Groundtruther, with three different guests, is being released by Thirsty Ear Records, titled "Latitude", (released, with Osby), "Longitude" (released, with DJ Logic),and "Altitude," (to be released November 2006, with DJ Olive).
Other recent touring included Europe 2003 with Groundtruther, the Frankfurt Festival for his Circus Band in 2004, and Europe in 2004 with the multi-instrumentalist and composer Elliott Sharp. In April 2005 Bobby Previte was in residence in Cheltenham, England, and lead a local ensemble at the Cheltenham Festival as well as introducing The Beta Popes. Also in 2005 Groundtruther toured the European festivals and the USA.
Previte now concentrates on Dialed In, a solo electronic drum show, The Constellations Ensemble, a chamber group touring the multi-media show, “The 23 Constellations of Joan Miró,” Strike, a new quartet with Marco Benevento and two saxophones, The Coalition of the Willing, a guitar quartet also featuring Charlie Hunter, Stephen Bernstein and Jamie Saft, Groundtruther, the duo with Hunter, and The Beta Popes, a power trio with Skerik and Saft. In 2006 he will tour Europe three times, the USA twice, and release three new recordings—The Coalition of the Willing and Dialed In, both on Ropeadope Records, and Altitude, the final CD in the Groundtruther trilogy, for Thirsty Ear.
Previte has received a grant from the Jerome Foundation and NYSCA to begin work on his newest production, in partnership with writer/director Andrea Kleine called The Separation, an examination of religion in society, for early music choir and band. Based on the 14th century composer Guilliaume Dufay’s Missa Sancti Jacobi, this new work will be designed by Anna Kiraly and will feature the award winning early music pioneers The Rose Ensemble. It opens February 2007 at the Walker Art in Minneapolis and will travel to Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo.
Bobby Previte has done numerous workshops, lectures, and master classes, including Jazzschule Lucern, Switzerland, the Haus der Cultur Der Welt in Berlin, The Jazz Institute of Australia, The Jazz School Istanbul, Cornish University in Seattle, The Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and The New School in New York City. The New Yorker Magazine has written, "His ensembles speak in visionary tongues."
Mr. Previte, in his travels all over the globe, has inspired thousands through his music and his teaching. The Penguin Musician’s Guide: “Bobby Previte is in many ways the archetypal 21st Century Jazz Musician: open-eared, adventurous, uncategorizable, technically flawless.” Many such things have been written about him, but in the end perhaps this simple quote rings truest: “He can break your heart with one cymbal crash.”