Gutbucket was formed in 1999 by two of its current four members just out of college: Ty Citerman (electric guitar) and Ken Thomson (saxophone); Adam D Gold (drums) would arrive in 2007, and Pat Swoboda (bass) has been touring with the group since 2012. Gutbucket quickly joined the youngest ranks of the blooming downtown NYC Knitting Factory avant-jazz scene, holding court during its extended Friday night residency at the former lower Manhattan taste-making club. In early 2001, Gutbucket was rewarded with its first record, InsomniacsDream, released on the now-defunct Knitting Factory Works label. The band began touring Europe that same year, developing an international fan base; in 2002 Gutbucket debuted at many of Europe’s highly regarded festivals, including Jazz a Vienne, San Sebastian Jazz Festival, and more.
Out of the gate, Gutbucket’s music challenged New York’s downtown norm– “a no-holds-barred approach to the jazz-rock paradigm” (The New York Times, 2010)– bringing a completely unique, road-tested performance (“Keep all limbs, drinks and small children well clear” – Time Out New York) and a sound that tilted much further towards rock than many of its contemporaries. Gutbucket’s brand of jazz continues to have its signature biting edge, cunning sense of humor and appreciation for the loud and theatrical. Improvisations are woven seamlessly and sometimes unexpectedly into the band’s growing repertoire, and each composer in the group writes with a characteristic voice that simultaneously supports the collective. From the beginning Gutbucket has had no single bandleader; the result has been an expansive yet recognizable group sound.
In 2003 and 2006, Gutbucket released a pair of albums on the Bang on a Can imprint Cantaloupe Music while simultaneously releasing in Europe: Dry Humping the American Dream (also released in Europe on Enja Records) and Sludge Test (also released NRW Records in Europe). Dry Humping the American Dream – recorded in a one-room studio over a weekend - explored the extremities of genre and sonic jumpcuts. On Sludge Test, however, Gutbucket focused on making a true rock record, with more immediate and heavy singularly-themed compositions; the band used the studio not just to document its sound, but to explore, orchestrate and experiment. Sludge Test was recorded and mixed over two intensive weeks at San Francisco’s fabled analog Tiny Telephone Studios by engineer Jay Pellicci (Deerhoof, Erase Errata). It also offered the group’s only recorded “cover” tune – their bold reading of the 7th movement from Olivier Messiaen’s famed “Quartet for the End of Time” which would spawn a new direction for the band, adding the influences of contemporary classical music to the sound.
Drummer Adam D Gold joined Gutbucket just in time for another 10,000 mile cross-country tour and the band’s Carnegie Hall premiere: saxophonist Ken Thomson’s American Composers Orchestra commission for Gutbucket and orchestra, “Wait Your Turn.” The piece was hailed by The New York Times as “an animated battle between the orchestra and…Gutbucket. [With] frenetic chords and explosive rhythms…the music offered a density worthy of the closing bars of a Led Zeppelin epic.” Frequent touring and two albums on Cuneiform Records have followed: 2009’s A Modest Proposal (mixed by legendary engineer Joel Hamilton) and the 2011 release Flock. For these records, the group added expansive chamber ensemble arrangements for multiple saxophones, clarinets, keyboards, guitars, prepared instruments, basses, cellos, noise toys, percussion, electronics, vibes and even multiple drum sets. The band delves deeply into all four members’ work as individual composers, assimilating contemporary classical, free jazz, mathy art rock, and more.
In celebration of its 15th anniversary in November 2014, Gutbucket was in residence for a week at John Zorn's legendary downtown NYC club The Stone, and their years of exploration and collaboration were on full display - they invited a number of special guests and presented world premiere material, teaming up with JACK Quartet, Tigue, Hypercolor, members of the Bang on a Can All-Stars and more. During this week they also recorded their sixth CD of new material in front of the live audience - music that the band had toured with for a year prior. This new disc, Dance, is due for release in January 2016 on the band's independent imprint, Gut Records, and is distributed internationally.
Gutbucket has brought its “impressive balance of passionate lyricism and pummeling angularity” (Time Out New York) to festivals, clubs and concert halls in 33 US states and 19 countries, including the London Jazz Festival, Seattle’s Earshot Jazz Festival, Jazz A Vienne, Warsaw Summer Jazz Days, Köln Triennale, San Sebastian Jazz Festival, Tel Aviv Jazz Festival, Saalfelden Jazz Festival, NY’s Bang on a Can Marathon, Celebrate Brooklyn, NYC Winter Jazzfest, Belgrade Jazz Festival, Copenhagen Jazz Festival and more.
Along with high-profile stage and studio activity, Gutbucket has developed a reputation for dynamic teaching engagements. The band has brought its inspiring four-person roundtable lessons on composition and improvisation to the Eastman School of Music, CalArts, Face the Music, Special Music High School (NYC), University of Missouri, University of Minnesota, Dartmouth College, Bang on a Can Summer Institute and numerous clinics and workshops at festivals and schools in the US and across Europe.