Former West Essex Band Director, Darryl J. Bott, 1955-2020
West Essex Band alumni, colleagues and students throughout New Jersey mourn the loss of a legend this weekend. Darryl J. Bott, former West Essex Band Director, passed away on Saturday May 23, 2020 at the age of 64.
He was an inspiration, a mentor and a friend to many high school and college musicians over several decades of teaching in the New Jersey public school system and at the University level. During his 7 years leading the West Essex Band Program from 1981 to 1988, Mr. Bott evolved each ensemble – the Concert and Symphonic Bands, Marching Band and Jazz Band – into the highest caliber and consummately professional groups of student musicians. His accomplishments did not go unnoticed in the halls of West Essex, as the 1988 Milestone Yearbook was dedicated in his honor.
He brought to West Essex the inaugural Invitational Marching Band Festival in 1982, a tradition that continues to this day as the Tournament of Bands Chapter X Championships. After countless accomplishments, awards and acclamation, Mr. Bott’s West Essex career reached its pinnacle when his Symphonic Band was selected as the only New Jersey ensemble to perform in the Tri-State Salute to Sousa and the Constitution at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City on May 17, 1987.
Mr. Bott came to West Essex from Wayne Valley High School in 1981. After West Essex, he spent 17 years with Roxbury High School before arriving at Rutgers University in 2005, where he retired in December 2019 as the Director of University Bands at the Mason Gross School of the Arts.
His ensembles at both the college and high school levels have received critical acclaim for their outstanding performances and have performed with world-renowned guest artists. Mr. Bott has served as a clinician for honor bands and schools across the United States and has had the honor of conducting the President’s Own, United States Marine Band and the New Jersey Wind Symphony.
As recently as January of this year, Mr. Bott conducted 3 West Essex musicians for the 2020 North Jersey Area Band Wind Ensemble – an experience these young musicians will not soon forget.
Mr. Bott was a graduate of William Paterson University, where he majored in music education. He received his graduate degree in Wind Conducting from Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts.
He instilled in his students the love of music, teamwork, discipline and reaching for greater heights together than any one student can achieve alone.
In his own words, as he wrote in the February 1985 Winter Band Festival concert program, “music is one art form where the most shy or forward individual can express their emotions through this versatile language…the music program offers even more important lessons in the development of team work and sharing a common goal, the art of accepting one’s weaknesses and building upon their strengths, the awe of projecting one’s emotions upon an audience and bringing them to their feet with tears of joy.”
These words are as true today as they were 35 years ago when written. The thousands of students Darryl Bott and his teachings have touched and inspired over the decades, and those who to this day reflect affectionately upon their time in the West Essex Band during “the Bott Years,” are living proof.