Get In The Groove

Jeff Gutcheon
Biography Discography

JEFF GUTCHEON was born January 3, 1941 in New York City. At age 12 he fired his classical piano teacher of five years, after his friend Arthur Elgort sold him a Fats Waller record and a Boogie Woogie sampler for $2.00. He spent his high school years learning these styles and immersed in New York’s rich musical culture which then included the doo-wop rock of Frankie Lymon, the be-bop of Thelonius Monk and Horace Silver, traditional folk music and Broadway Musicals like West Side Story.

Gutcheon first became interested in performing when he heard the Amherst College Zumbyes, a jazz-oriented triple-quartet sing at a freshman meeting. Excited by the possibilities of jazz singing, he later joined the group as arranger and then leader. At the same time, growing interest in folk music was represented on the Amherst campus by Jim Rooney and Bill Keith. By his senior year, Jeff’s eclectic approach to contemporary music was firmly established or maybe inescapable. That spring the Count Basie band played at the prom and campus parties featured Chuck Berry at one fraternity, while Taj Mahal and the Electras, a local group from Springfield, Massachusetts, played at another.

Entering architecture grad school at MIT in the fall of 1962, Jeff continued developing his vocal arranging style with the Harvard Krokodiloes, but was increasingly drawn to the creative folk music scene that was happening around the Club 47 in Harvard square. Playing a few old time piano blues numbers at a hootenanny there one night in August 1963 served as an introduction to the local guitar pickers. Soon he befriended Geoff and Maria Muldaur who were playing with the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and Mitch Greenhill, songwriting guitarist with whom he formed a duet loosely patterned after the Leroy Carr-Scrapper Blackwell style. Jeff and Mitch performed at the Newport Folk Festival in the summer of 1966, and Jeff’s appearance on Mitch’s Prestige album in 1965 marked his entry into the recording field, both as piano player and ad hoc vocal arranger

Meanwhile, in the MIT design studios, a 24-hour-a-day stream of pop music on the AM radio heralded the English rock and the American R&B explosion and Gutcheon began to write songs and piano compositions. Besides playing local gigs with Mitch, Jeff formed a skiffle trio called Spike’s Group, with guitarist Dave Barry and bassist Spike Holden. Dave’s friend Jon Child helped record the group at performances while Jon applied his recording know-how to the pop tunes Jeff was writing. The results were exciting and good enough to convince them it was worth a shot at the pop music scene. Picking up drummer Eric Valdina and lead vocalist Jeff Jordan from the Harvard rock group The Forerunners, and adding lead guitarist R.O. Curtis, Thundrgrin was formed with Jon playing bass.

When school commitments were completed in 1967, the band moved to New York City in search of a recording career loosely based on Gutcheon’s songwriting and arranging, with a melodic sound. The group’s first single on Epic records was not successful. Jeff Jordan left the group and was replaced as lead singer by Robert Patterson. This new configuration had a harder edge and attracted the interest of Jeffrey and Chandler, Jimi Hendrix’ management team who took on the group renamed as Jessie’s First Carnival. The "Carnival" began work on an album and played at The Café Wha?, a Greenwich Village club. Other groups playing there at the time included Bo Grumpus with bass player Jim Colegrove and Kangaroo, with drummer N.D. Smart. Gutcheon, Colegrove and Smart formed an affinity for one another’s musical styles and resolved to seek opportunities to play together. Thus, a lasting friendship and the nucleus of Hungry Chuck was born. The first such opportunity occurred in 1969 when Barbara Keith, lead singer/songwriter of Kangaroo, was signed to make a solo album by Verve records. Jim, Jeff, and N.D. formed the rhythm section for the album, including R.O. Curtis as guitarist.

During 1968-9, the Kweskin Jug Band disbanded, as Geoff and Maria Muldaur began a recording career together with their own unique blues-country-R&B style. In a tryout relationship with R&B producer Jerry Ragovoy they recorded one of Gutcheon’s songs, All Bowed Down, which was eventually released on a Warner/ Reprise sampler album. Although Geoff and Maria did not hit it off with Jerry Ragovoy, Gutcheon became an apprentice at Ragovoy’s Hit Factory studio, and was engaged to design his new Hit Factories on 48th street, both of which became popular recording venues for artists such as B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt and John Lennon

As part of his apprenticeship, Jeff joined the Hit Factory scene, and was present at several notable sessions, including the first James Gang record and John Sebastian’s first solo album. One night between takes, Sebastian heard Gutcheon playing piano in the studio and mentioned it favorably to David Bromberg who then asked Jeff to become part of a small ensemble he was putting together for an Elektra record with Paul Siebel. Siebel’s record, now considered legendary, was released in 1969 and Jeff joined Bromberg and Gary White playing behind Siebel, opening two concerts for The Band.

Gutcheon’s, Colegrove’s and Smart’s various band ventures were not progressing. Those groups eventually disbanded, while gigs as sidemen became more lucrative and attractive. Jim and N.D. moved to Woodstock. N.D. had become the drummer for Ian and Sylvia’s Great Speckled Bird and Jim then joined that group. When Ian and Sylvia got an opportunity make a weekly network TV show in Toronto, Jim and N.D. pulled Jeff into the studio band which then, along with guitarist David Wilcox and pedal steel/dobro player Ben Keith, taped more than 60 TV shows between 1970 and 1972 and contributed to the formation of country-rock in the early ’70s, both in Canada and the U.S.

At the same time, guitarist Amos Garrett left Ian and Sylvia’s band to play with a new group being formed in Woodstock by Geoff and Maria Muldaur. Amos became next-door neighbors with Jim and N.D., giving them an opportunity to continue the musical relationship formed in the Great Speckled Bird. During the three week lapses between TV sessions in Toronto, Jeff continued writing songs, playing local gigs in New York and designing/building recording studios. When Art Polhemus a producer/engineer who worked occasionally for Jerry Ragovoy, decided to build his own studio, he made an arrangement with Gutcheon to provide the design and supervise the construction in return for sufficient recording time to make and album demo. These sessions, which Jim, N.D., Amos and Jeff rehearsed in Woodstock, were the first recordings at Polhemus’ Coordinated Sound Studio, and sold Hungry Chuck as a music concept to Albert Grossman’s Bearsville label. The album was completed in Woodstock with the addition of Ben Keith and cornetist Peter Ecklund, featuring seven of Jeff’s songs and outstanding instrumental work from the entire ensemble, with a little help from Garth Hudson, Geoff Muldaur and Paul Butterfield. The Hungry Chuck album, originally released in 1972 as Bearsville BR2071, has been released in Japan by Warner/Pioneer (1977), CBS/SONY (1983), Pony Canyon (1995) and twice in a UK/Europe pirated version.

During the ’70-’76 period, Gutcheon continued to develop musical affiliations in New York, playing with guitarist Steve Burgh, bassist Hugh McDonald, and drummer Steve Mosley on albums by David Bromberg, Steve Goodman, Willie Nelson, and Gladys Knight. In 1973-4 he also played with Maria Muldaur’s traveling band when her first album became popular and appeared on one track of her second album, Waitress in a Donut Shop.

From 1976-8 Jeff recorded with a number of Philo artists, including Lou London, Jay Ungar/Lyn Hardy, Doris Abrams and Rosalie Sorrels. He also wrote and recorded theme and incidental music for The Learning Path, a PBS series about the Menominee Indians of Wisconsin produced by Joel Friedman.

In the fall of 1978, Gutcheon was approached by Richard Maltby to join a team creating a cabaret evening of Fats Waller’s music to be presented at the Manhattan Theatre Club in early 1979, with a cast that included Nell Carter, Irene Cara, Ken Page, and Andre de Shields. That revue, extremely successful, was quickly sold to Broadway producers as Ain’t Misbehavin’, although encumbered by several lawsuits concerning payment and credit, among them actions initiated by Gutcheon and by members of the cast. As a result, Gutcheon established himself as one of the show’s authors, and in a landmark decision, paved the way for arrangers to become royalty participants in shows based on previously existing music.

The years 1978-9 also saw the publication by Music Sales Corporation of Jeff’s piano instruction books Improvising Rock Piano and Teach Yourself Rock Piano, both of which are still in circulation.

During the 1980s Gutcheon’s musical involvements took a hiatus as he pursued other career interests in design and textile design, while further developing his piano playing. New work was finished on tracks with the members of Hungry Chuck in 1999. Recordings by a new group that includes Jeff, Jim Colegrove, Fort Worth steel guitarist David McMillan and vocalist Susan Colegrove were completed in 2000. The group is called Lost Country®. Lost Country® - Broken People was released on Cool GrooveTM CD101, April 2001. Their second CD, Down On The Borderline, was released in June 2002. During that summer Jeff moved to Fort Worth, Texas. The group’s third CD, Turn Your Radio Around, was issued in November 2003. Their fourth CD, Long Gone Thrill, was released November 2005. The last record Jeff did with the group is titled Scattered and was released in July 2007.

Jeff retired from public performing in September, 2007 due to health reasons. In April, 2008 he returned to New York. Jeffrey passed away on June 23, 2013. We will miss a dear friend.


Jeff Gutcheon Discography

(Credits Key: VS - vocals; A - arrangement; V - vocal arrangement; P - piano; O - organ; K - other keyboards; PR - producer)

The Amherst Zumbyes - unissued - 1960
Mostly Modern - V, VS

The Amherst Zumbyes - unissued - 1962
When I Fall In Love - V, VS

Various Octets - Carlton LP 141 - 1962
The Collegiate Sound - V, VS

Various Octets - Carlton LP 142 - 1962
More Collegiate Sounds - V, VS

Mitch Greenhill - Prestige PR 7438 - 1962 / Prestige PRCD 24939-2 - 2000
Mitch Greenhill and His Friends - P, V, VS

The Harvard Krokodiloes - unissued - 1966
Back Bay to Bombay - V

Thundergrin - Epic 10215 single - 1967
Women In The Street/Mister Simms - K, V, VS

Barbara Keith - Verve Forecast FTS 3084 - 1969
Barbara Keith - P, O, K, VS

Paul Siebel - Electra EKS 74064 - 1969 / Philo PH 1161 - 1995
Woodsmoke and Oranges - P, O

Jay & the Americans - United Artists single 50605 - 1969
Walkin’ In The Rain - P

Great Jones - Tonsil T-4002 - 1970
All Bowed Down - P, O

Geoff & Maria Muldaur - Warner Pro 336 - 1970
Warner/Reprise Record Show - P, A

Geoff & Maria Muldaur - Reprise MS 2073 - 1972
Sweet Potatoes - P, O

Hungry Chuck - Bearsville BR 2071 (US) - 1972 / Warner-Pioneer P-7606W - 1977 (Japan) / CBS SONY 20AP 1988 - 1983 (Japan) / Pony Canyon PCCY-00727 - 1995 (Japan)
Hungry Chuck - P, O, K, VS

Hungry Chuck - Bearsville single 0004 - 1972
Dixie Highway/South In New Orleans

Ian & Sylvia with Great Speckled Bird - Columbia KG 31337 - 1972
You Were On My Mind - P, V

Razmataz - United Artists UAS 5564 - 1972
For The First Time - P

David Bromberg - Columbia - KC 31753 - 1973
Demon In Disguise - P

Steve Goodman - Buddah BDS 5121 - 1973
Somebody Else’s Troubles - P, O

Willie Nelson - Atlantic SD 7262 - 1973
Shotgun Willie* - P, O, K

*Note: Jeff Gutcheon replaces "Bobbie Nelson, piano" on:
Slow Down Old World
She’s Not For You
Devil In A Sleepin’ Bag

David Bromberg - Columbia/Sony 32717 - 1974/1992
Wanted: Dead or Alive - P

Maria Muldaur - Warner Brothers/WEA 2194 - 1974/1993
Waitress In A Donut Shop - P

Steve Goodman - Asylum 7E-1061 - 1975
Jessie’s Jig - P, O

Willie Nelson - Columbia KC-34112 - 1976
The Troublemaker
     Uncloudy Day - O

Gladys Knight - Greatest Hits - Buddah BDS 5653
Greatest Hits* - P, O, A

*Note - 1973 is the session date for the songs:
Imagination
You’re The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me
Storms Of Troubled Times
The rhythm section for the above is:
Bass: Hugh McDonald
Drums: Steve Mosley
Guitar: Steve Burgh
Piano: Jeff Gutcheon

Steve Goodman - Asylum 7E-1061 - 1976
Words We Can Dance To - P, K

Jay Ungar/Lyn Hardy - Philo PH 1023 - 1976
Jay and Lyn - P

Lou London - Philo 1032 - 1976
Swingtime In Springtime - P

Rosalie Sorrels - Philo 1033/Green Linnet 2109 - 1976/1993
Moments Of Happiness - P

Ringo Starr - Atlantic SD-19108 / WEA/Atlantic 82416 - 1977/1992
Ringo the 4th - P, K

Rosalie Sorrels - Green Linnet 1042 - 1978
Miscellaneous Abstract Record #1 - P

Jim Colegrove - Flying High FN 2194 - 1979
Panther City Blues - P

Jon Sholle - Rounder 3026 - 1979
Catfish For Supper - P

Original Cast Album - RCA #? - 1979
Ain’t Misbehavin’* - V

*Correct credits appear on The Pointer Sister’s version,
RCA 09026-68415-4:
"Vocal and Music Concepts by Jeffrey Gutcheon"
"Vocal Arrangements by Jeffrey Gutcheon and William Elliot"

Priscilla Herdman - Flying Fish 70230 - 1980
Forgotten Dreams - P

David Wilcox - EMI E2 26701 - 1980
Out Of The Woods - P

Sid King - Rockhouse 8701 (Holland) - 1982
Let’s Get Loose - P, VS

Original Cast Album - Alchemy Al-1001-D - 1983
Preppies - PR

Priscilla Herdman - Flying Fish 230 - 1993
Forgotten Dreams - P

Steve Goodman - Red Pajamas 8 - 1994
No Big Surprise - P

Willie Nelson - WEA/Atlantic/Rhino 71462 - 1995
Classic & Unreleased Collection - O

Various Bearsville Artists - Pony Canyon PCCY-00727(Japan) - 1996
Bearsville Box Set - P, O, K, VS

South In New Orleans/Funky Lunchbox
Box Office Disaster
Celia

Lost Country - Cool Groove CD 101 - 2001
Broken People
- P, O, VS

Lost Country - Cool Groove CD 102 - 2002
Down On The Borderline
- P, O, VS

Lost Country - Cool Groove CD 104 - 2003
Turn Your Radio Around
- P, VS, K

Lost Country - Cool Groove CD 105 - 2005
Long Gone Thrill
- P, O

James Hinkle - Blue Lights 101 - 2006
Blues Now - Jazz Later - P

Lost Country - Cool Groove CD 106 - 2007
Scattered
- P

Soundtracks

The Americans - PBS/New York City - 1979
Pilot TV Series - P, A

The Learning Path - PBS/Wisconsin - 1978
TV Series/Menominees - P

Books

Improvising Rock Piano - 1978
Consolidated Music Publishers/Music Sales Corp., New York City
Volume 71, Music For Millions series - ISBN 0-8256-4071-7

Teach Yourself Rock Piano - 1979
Amsco Music Publishing/Music Sales Corp., New York City
No. 207, Everybody’s Favorite series - ISBN 0-8256-2207-7


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