November 28, 1949-January 25, 2020
The world-class drummer Bob Gullotti, a frequent performing presence here on the Seacoast, died suddenly on Saturday, January 25th, at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was 70 years old.
Bob was an extraordinarily talented and inventive musician with a global reputation and a fan base throughout the U.S. as well as in Europe, where he spent much of his time. He was a full-time touring musician best-known for his role in The Fringe, the free jazz trio that was founded in 1972, in which Gullotti shared the bandstand with saxophonist George Garzone and bassist John Lockwood, a partnership famous for its spontaneous improvisations, its interconnectedness, its daring, and its musicality. He also performed and recorded with some of today’s and yesterday’s foremost jazz artists, his peers, among them Kenny Werner, Joe Lovano, Bob Brookmeyer, Eddie Henderson and Dave Liebman. The keyboardist John Medeski described Gullotti as “truly infinitely creative and supportive and always limit-pushing,” adding “No one played lines on their ride cymbal like Bob. Multidimensional, hardworking, professional musician extraordinaire. Unparalleled, really.” Bob was also known for his collaboration with the popular psychedelic folk/rock group Phish, with whom, famously, he sat in on three different concert occasions: in Hartford, in Dallas, and in Austin.
Here on the Seacoast, Bob performed over the years at the University of New Hampshire, The Music Hall, The Dance Hall, and most frequently The Press Room — usually with The Fringe, but not always, a recent exception being his performance this past September with Seacoast favorite Sharon Jones. That performance underscored Bob’s versatility: While certainly best known for his free jazz playing, musicians and serious listeners knew he was also a grounded, well-schooled drummer who always played appropriately to the gig’s context. Commenting on that performance with Sharon, pianist Ryan Parker, who hosts Sunday Night Jazz at The Press Room, observed that “he had to get into straight-up shuffles/back beat things...and did it better than anyone.”
But as enormous a presence Bob Gullotti was on the bandstand, he was equally renowned as a teacher, enjoying a decades-long career in that role, during which he mentored literally thousands of musicians in the Boston area, nationally, and globally, including more than a few drummers active here on the Seacoast. At the time of his passing, he was a Professor in the Percussion Department at Berklee College of Music in Boston as well as a private drum instructor for professionals at his home studio in Waltham, Massachusetts. A graduate of Berklee himself, where he studied with the legendary drummer Alan Dawson, he developed teaching techniques, drills and methods that were wholly his own.
Bob Gullotti, a lifelong resident of Waltham, is survived by his loving wife, the guitarist and educator Marion Campos Gullotti, his devoted children Alicia Robillard and her husband Scott Robillard, and Andrew Gullotti, his cherished grandchildren Ty, Toni and Trevor Robillard, his ex-wife Carol Gullotti, his brothers Russell, Stephen, James and Arthur Gullotti along with their wives and children, the rest of the extended Gullotti family, and Marion’s son, Lucas Paris. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend a celebration of Bob’s life at Brasco & Sons Funeral Home’s Mary Catherine Chapel at 773 Moody Street, Waltham, on Saturday morning, February 1st, at 11 a.m. Visiting hours will be held at the same location on Friday, January 31st, from 3–8 pm. Parking attendants will be on duty. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Bob Gullotti Memorial Musical Scholarship Fund c/o Waltham Public Schools, 617 Lexington St. Waltham, MA 02452, Attn: Waltham High School Bob Gullotti Memorial Musical Scholarship Fund.
Bob will be dearly missed by many.