Robert "Bobby" Previte (born July 16, 1951, Niagara Falls, New York) is a drummer, composer and bandleader. Previte earned a B.A. in Economics at the University at Buffalo, where he also studied percussion. He moved to New York City in 1979, and became active in the city's thriving jazz and experimental music scenes. He began professional relationships with John Zorn, Wayne Horvitz, Elliott Sharp and others that have continued, intermittently, to the present.
While Previte is a talented drummer he has also received critical acclaim for his "exceptional abilities as a composer and orchestrator." A review of his 1988 album Claude's Late Morning reports that "Perhaps most striking is Previte's skill in composing music that fully integrates these disparate instruments -- including drums and drum machine, electric guitar and keyboards, trombone, harp, accordion, banjo, pedal steel guitar, tuba, and harmonica -- while emphasizing each instrument's unique, individual sound." Another critic notes Previte's "driving and propulsive compositions, featuring both fiery jazz expressionism and layered counterpoint that suggested elements of contemporary minimalism.
Previte's compositions are often tightly arranged, although they leave room for significant amounts of improvisation. Additionally, Previte often uses unusual instrumentation and also draws on many non-jazz musics for his compositions.
In 1991, he wrote the score for "Cirk Valentin" (Moscow Circus on Stage), a stage show consisting of circus acts created by Valentin Gneushev that performed at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway.
Recent large-scale compositional works as of Spring 2007 include:
"The Constellations Ensemble," a chamber group touring the multi-media show, The 23 Constellations of Joan Miró.,
"The Separation," a collaboration with writer/director Andrea Kleine "dealing with the role of religion in society. Based on the 15th-century composer Guilliaume Dufay's Missa Sancti Jacobi and written for early music pioneers the Rose Ensemble with electric band.",
Previte is currently working on a series of percussion concertos featuring So Percussion ensemble and solo improvisers scheduled to premiere in 2011.
Previte has received excellent reviews and full articles in major newspapers such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian for playing a wide range of genres and venues and for qualities as diverse as his intellectual aesthetic to his ability "to groove." Recent and current projects as of Spring 2007 include :
"Dialed In," a solo electronic drum show collaboration with video artist Benton C Bainbridge.,
The Coalition of the Willing, a guitar quartet featuring Charlie Hunter, Steven Bernstein and Jamie Saft.,
"Strike," a new quartet with organist Marco Benevento and two saxophones.,
"Groundtruther," a duo with Hunter.,
"The Beta Popes," a power trio with Skerik and Saft.,
"Swami LatePlate," a duo with Jamie Saft.,
Much of Previte's work is also improvisational. One of Previte's own favorite recorded improvisational collaborations was with John Zorn, "Euclid's Nightmare" (Depth of Field 1997). In the 1990s, he performed with the Seattle-based 100% improvisational musical collective Ponga with Wayne Horvitz, Skerik, and Dave Palmer. Previte has collaborated with Jamie Saft as "Swami Late Plate." Also the improvisational Bobby Previte, Jamie Saft, Skerik: Live in 2003 (DVD - Word Public) was released in 2006. April In New York, is a 5-DVD set released 2007 of improvisational duets.
Previte appeared in the movie Short Cuts directed by Robert Altman.