Bumpus began his musical career playing alto saxophone at ten for his school band, and by age 12 he was playing at Luso-American dances. He attended Santa Cruz High School where he performed in the band and won the John Philips Sousa Award. In 1966 he was in Bobby Freeman's band and after this he began his associations with many well-known groups.
His role in these bands was primarily as a saxophonist. His most notable touring was with the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan. Bumpus toured with Steely Dan from 2000 to 2003. In 2002 he worked on the Big Blue Earth project sponsored by the Church of Christ, Scientist. Bumpus enjoyed a short tenure with Café Society, a Los Angeles pop band, during the 1980s where he played in a horn section with the trombonist Dan Levine and trumpeter Anne Petereit King.
In 1981, Bumpus issued his first solo LP, A Clear View, which featured his singing, writing and sax playing, stretching out with the band on several, long, jazzy jams over six minutes each.
Bumpus died of a heart attack on February 3, 2004 while on an airline flight. He was 58. Bumpus suffered a heart attack during a flight from New York to California, where he was scheduled to perform at the Columbia College Jazz Concert Series. The plane made an emergency landing in Kansas City to try and help him, but Bumpus died by the time the plane reached the ground, according to the Associated Press.
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With Clifford Coulter
- East Side San Jose (Impulse!, 1970)
With Moby Grape
- Live Grape (Escape Records, 1978)
With Donald Fagen
- Kamakiriad (Reprise, 1993)
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