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John PrevitiJOHN PREVITI

From Reed To Rock
In the Southern Maryland-D.C. area during the early sixties, John grew up immersed in the region’s bubbling cauldron of musical styles: swing, country, jazz, R&B, soul and the roots of rockabilly. His earliest musical memories are eclectic indeed: Nat Cole, Fats Domino, Benny Goodman, and all-day, all-night jazz on D.C.’s then-great WMAL. In fourth grade he was strongly drawn to classical oboe and pursued it for five years.

By high school, the lure of rock and roll was too great. Electric bass was the rock instrument that spoke to him; within a year John was playing in his high school’s stage band and getting his first paying gigs. He was appearing regularly at Teen Club, a popular regional rock club.

Jamming With Giants
In college he was drawn to the upright bass, seriously studying both jazz and classical bass. Prince George Community College had a hip music scene; soon John was holding down the contrabass first chair in both the college’s concert band and the jazz ensemble. But electric bass gigs were still paying the rent.

After college, John freelanced with various electric jazz groups, much under the influence of Weather Report and Miles’ fusion experiments.

In 1976, jamming on electric bass at a guitar shop in his hometown of Clinton, he met guitar great Danny Gatton. Danny liked his playing so much he invited John to join the band he was just starting. That group went on to make guitar history and, with one hiatus, John played with Danny for the next eighteen years.

Those were years of enormous growth for John. Playing bass for Danny was doubly demanding: Danny set incredibly high standards of musicianship and he was a superb bass player himself. In fact, Danny introduced John to slap bass, now a hallmark of John’s swing and blues numbers.

John PrevitiComing Home To Jazz
In ’82 when he returned to Danny’s group, John started playing more and more upright bass—following both his own and Danny’s inclinations. Danny was gradually moving back towards his jazz roots. Though it’s not widely known, Danny had started his guitar career as a superb Wes Montgomery-style jazz player. That was before Danny started to turn toward rockabilly and before Maryland’s charismatic guitar legend, Roy Buchanan, taught him the rock/blues style of bending strings.

With the steady growth of the Danny Gatton Trio’s fame and its jazz evolution, John was becoming increasingly sought after as the guitarist’s bass player. Through the eighties, he started getting calls from the cream of the area’s jazz guitarists: Steve Abshire, Paul Wingo and others. His old teen idol, the pioneer of acoustic jazz guitar, Charlie Byrd called. He had a chance to gig and record with Herb Ellis and eventually even accompanied Les Paul, a great Danny Gatton admirer. By the early nineties, he was performing regularly with Rick Whitehead—the D.C. area jazz guitar icon and star soloist with the Airmen of Note.

In another return to the music of his early years, John was playing more and more swing. His first swing and blues gigs were with laidback, bluesy drummer Big Joe Maher in 1983. A year later he had his first chance to play with John Cocuzzi, at the time the hottest young swing vibist on the Maryland-Virginia-DC scene. Not long thereafter Previti performed with the great trumpeter, Doc Cheatham, a man whose long career spanned the entire swing era from its very beginnings.

Serving The Music
By the late eighties, in addition to his work with Danny, John was also starting to appear more regularly as a jazz quartet leader, usually either with a guitar or a sax soloist.

Danny Gatton’s tragic death in 1994 was a devastating blow to John, as it was to all those who loved Danny.In 1995 John got heavily involved in the music for Paul Simon’s play, Capeman, eventually recording the music with Paul.

That same year, John went on a blues tour with Big Joe Maher and his East-West Allstars (with Junior Watson on guitar), starting an active collaboration that continues to this day. By 1996 Previti, John Cocuzzi and Big Joe formed the Big Three Trio—and shortly thereafter the Big Four Combo which added Joe Stanley, D.C.’s legendary and pioneering R&B/swing tenorman. Both groups appear regularly and have a loyal following of fans throughout the Maryland-Virginia-D.C. area.

In 1995 at Mapleshade, Previti recorded in a tribute to Danny Gatton with Joe Stanley and Big Joe Maher (#03852). He recorded again for Mapleshade’s sister label Wildchild! in 1999, a swing session with John Cocuzzi, Alan Vaché and Big Joe (#06652).

Today John continues to front his own quartets. And, as a labor of love, he leads the Mingus-Monk Tribute. A larger horn group, the Tribute performs highly original arrangements of Mingus and Monk classics in monthly appearances. Swinging Lullabies For My Rosetta is John’s first album as a leader.

 

MAPLESHADE RELEASES:

Swinging Lullabyes For My Rosetta (#09632) King of the Honky Tonk Sax (#03852) Swingin' And Burnin' (#06652) Baby Won't You Please Come Home (#10632)

 

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