From Reed To Rock
the Southern Maryland-D.C. area during the early sixties, John
grew up immersed in the regions 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 schools
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 colleges 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 Johns swing and blues numbers.
Home To Jazz
In 82 when he returned to Dannys group, John started
playing more and more upright bassfollowing both his own
and Dannys inclinations. Danny was gradually moving back
towards his jazz roots. Though its 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 Marylands charismatic guitar legend, Roy Buchanan,
taught him the rock/blues style of bending strings.
With the steady growth of the Danny
Gatton Trios fame and its jazz evolution, John was becoming
increasingly sought after as the guitarists bass player.
Through the eighties, he started getting calls from the cream
of the areas 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 Whiteheadthe 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 Gattons 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 Simons play, Capeman, eventually recording the music
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 Trioand 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.
In 1995 at Mapleshade, Previti recorded
in a tribute to Danny Gatton with Joe Stanley and Big Joe Maher
(#03852). He recorded again for Mapleshades 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 Johns first album as a leader.