Known for his undeniable swing and groove, extreme versatility, and innovative and conceptual approach to his instrument, Gintas Janusonis is an acclaimed drummer, producer, composer, vocalist, and educator who is highly sought after for the unique creativity and presence he brings into any musical environment. In a career spanning twenty years, he has toured and recorded across six continents and worked with some of the most legendary and iconic musicians, groups, and producers of modern music. To date he has appeared on over 40 recordings.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Gintas is the son of Lithuanian-American immigrant parents who recognized and nurtured his prodigious talents from an early age. Though not professional musicians themselves, both parents had musical backgrounds and exposed him to the music, art, and culture that would prove instrumental in shaping his future. Gintas started playing violin at the age of three, studying the Suzuki Method at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, before discovering his true instrumental calling as a drummer at the age of five. Throughout his childhood and teenage years, Gintas studied drums, piano, and classical and ethnic percussion extensively with some of the best performers and educators in the Midwest, including Jim Sewrey, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Timpanist Tele Lesbines, Carl Allen, Ernie Adams, Bob Hobbs, Vince Davis and Kim Zick. He also participated in a number of different local youth symphonies and ensembles, as well as playing in rock bands with his peers. Beginning as a young teen, Gintas’ intense interest in Jazz and modern music had him regularly going to local jam sessions in Milwaukee, where he honed his skills among some of the scene’s most important instrumentalists like Berkeley Fudge, Manty Ellis, Brian Lynch, Mark Johnson, Luis Diaz and David Hazeltine. His earliest professional gigs were with local Jazz, Rock, and Reggae groups, eventually leading to regular gigs with the groups of two of his mentors, iconic Wes Montgomery organist Melvin Rhyne and bassist Gerald Cannon.
After graduating high school at the age of seventeen and studying for one year at Northern Illinois University on a full music scholarship, Gintas’ desire to be closer to the musical mecca of New York City prompted him to move to Boston to study performance and composition at Berklee College of Music. While studying there he began working regularly with many of the best musicians in the New England area, such as guitarist Bruce Bartlett, Billy Cobham/Vital Information bassist Baron Browne, and guitarist Jeffrey Lockhart.
Since moving to New York City in the mid 90’s to further pursue his professional career, Gintas has experienced a working schedule that has seen him performing, touring, recording, and/or collaborating with an incredibly diverse range of artists including Angelique Kidjo, Branford Marsalis, Eminem, Carlos Santana, Bill Laswell, RZA, Wu Tang Clan, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Otis Clay, Charles Hodges, Teenie Hodges, Leroy Hodges, Lester Snell, Boo Mitchell, Yuna, M.O.P., Bill Laswell, Lee Scratch Perry, Erykah Badu, Los Lobos, Xander Duell, Foxy Brown, Frankie Negron, Bilal, Defunkt, James Spaulding, Oliver Lake, Utada Hikaru, Ursula Rucker, Tre Williams, Jonah Smith, The Next Legacy Big Band, Kahil el’Zabar, Sandra St. Victor, Josh Roseman, Reggie Washington, Fareed Haque, Rueben Wilson, Curtis Fowlkes, Jeff Mironov, Michael Harvey and many others. As an auspicious start to his recording career, in 1997 Gintas received a UK gold record for his performance on the Ultra Nate hit single “Free”, from the album “Situation Critical”.
His extensive list of film and television performance credits include The Tonight Show w/Jimmy Fallon, The Man With the Iron Fist Soundtrack, The Tonight Show w/Jay Leno, The Nobel Peace Prize Concert, Soul Train, BET 106th and Park, The Artie Lange Show, The View, AGT, MTV, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, French National Television, and Spanish National Television. He has performed numerous times at world famous venues and festivals including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Bonaroo, SXSW, The Blue Note, 55 Bar, The Knitting Factory, Tonic, The Stone, North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreaux Jazz Festival, JVC Rome Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, San Sebastian Jazz Festival, Belgrade Jazz Festival, Esb Dublin Jazz Festival, and the Vilnius Jazz Festival.
While continuously cultivating his performing career as a drummer over the last twenty years, Gintas has also simultaneously diversified his musical talents into the realms of music production, engineering, composing, and singing. Examples of this include composing, arranging, producing, engineering, and mixing tracks for Wu-Tang Clan and C.E. Garcia’s “Starkiller” album, composing and production work for various TV and film projects, as well as co-producing and editing the first Bandit 65 recording.
Gintas is also a founding member, drummer and background vocalist for the Brooklyn based Soul/R&B/Hip-hop group and production team, The Revelations. Since forming in 2008 they have released a string of critically acclaimed original albums under their own name (two of which having been recorded by Boo Mitchell at the iconic Royal Studios in Memphis, with guest artists the Hodges brothers, Lester Snell, and Bobby Manuel), done extensive recording, performing and production work with hip hop artists such as RZA, the Wu-Tang Clan, M.O.P., Prodigy, Just Blaze, and Cormega, and acted as the backing band for soul legends like Otis Clay and Benny Latimore. In 2010 they co-wrote, co-produced, and played on southern soul singer Calvin Richardson’s Grammy-nominated single “You’re So Amazing”, as well as the rest of his album “America’s Most Wanted”. Most recently they produced and performed on legendary rapper Ghostface Killah’s “36 Seasons” album.
Aside from his regular work as a session drummer and producer, Gintas’ current main musical focus is Bandit 65, his original group with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and guitarist-producer Tim Motzer. The group will be touring internationally starting in May 2016, with a new recording to follow.
Gintas is part of a new generation of progressive musicians who, as a reflection of their diverse musical backgrounds and influences, are not bound by categories or stylistic dogma; musicians who are dealing with the playing and creation of forward looking music that has a firm grounding in tradition, by recognizing and establishing artistic connections that span across all creative mediums.