John Bunch

John Bunch was a distinguished musician with a long career, even though his skills as an accompanist or supportive player were sometimes overlooked. When he was 11, he began playing piano and was soon playing in local clubs. Bunch was a versatile pianist, who was inspired most by Teddy Wilson. He played local until he joined the big bands of Woody Herman (1956-1957), Benny Goodman (1957), and Maynard Ferguson (1958), when he was in his mid-thirties. Bunch was part of the Buddy Rich, Al Cohn/Zoot SIMS, and Gene Krupa small groups. He also accompanied Tony Bennett from 1966 to 1972. Bunch recorded five albums with Goodman in the ’60s, ’70s, and as a leader for Famous Door, Chiaroscuro, Progressive (an excellent solo piano set of Kurt Weill compositions that was later reissued on CD), among others. John Bunch recorded for Arbors, Chiaroscuro and Concord from the 1980s to 2000s. He was frequently used by Warren Vache and Scott Hamilton as a young star. A Special Alliance (2002; Arbors); An English Songbook 2003, Chiaroscuro; Tony’s Tunes 2003, Chiaroscuro); at the Nola Playhouse (2006, Arbors); and Plays the Music Of Irving Berlin (Except One 2008, Arbors). Bunch, Jay Leonhart and Bucky Pizzarelli co-led New York Swing, also known as the John Bunch Trio. He played his final gig with the group on March 11, 2010. Bunch was a frequent guest at solo concerts, including Carnegie Hall, most capitals around the globe, and he made numerous television appearances both in the U.S.A. and abroad. Along with the London Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra, he conducted the bands of Buddy Rich, Woody Herman and Count Basie. Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Joe Morello, Warren Vache, Jr. recorded his original compositions. John Bunch, who was 88, died from melanoma in Manhattan, March 30, 2010.

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