John Bunch

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John Bunch
Dick Sheridan and John Bunch.jpg
Dick Sheridan and John Bunch, 2007
Background information
Born (1921-12-01)December 1, 1921
Tipton, Indiana, U.S.
Died March 30, 2010(2010-03-30) (aged 88)
New York City
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Piano
Associated acts Tony Bennett, Kenny Davern, Maynard Ferguson

John Bunch (December 1, 1921 – March 30, 2010) was an American jazz pianist.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Born and raised in Tipton, Indiana, a small farming community, he studied piano with George Johnson, a well-known Hoosier jazz pianist. By the age of 14 he was already playing with adult bands in central Indiana.

Later life and career[edit]

During World War II he enlisted in the Air Corps and became a bombardier on a B17 Flying Fortress. He and his ten-man crew were transferred to combat duty in England, flying bombing missions over Germany. His plane was shot down 2 November 1944 and Bunch was taken prisoner. In prison camp he learned to arrange for big bands.

After the war, he applied for university training as a music major, but was refused because he couldn't sight read classical music. He worked later in factories and insurance. In 1956 he moved to Los Angeles where he immediately was accepted by jazz musicians such as Georgie Auld and Jimmie Rowles, who later recommended him to Woody Herman. He settled in New York in 1958, where he joined Eddie Condon and Maynard Ferguson. He recorded with Ferguson and many smaller groups.

In 1966 Bunch joined Tony Bennett as pianist and musical director, and stayed in the employ of the singer until 1972. During that time he appeared on Bennett's 1972 series for Thames Television, Tony Bennett at the Talk of the Town. After that, he resumed his jazz work, performing and recording with Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Pearl Bailey, and Scott Hamilton. He led a trio, mostly in England, and made many recordings as a leader, most notably with the New York Swing Trio with Bucky Pizzarelli and Jay Leonhart.

Bunch was still active in Europe and the United States during his final years. He died of melanoma in Roosevelt Hospital, Manhattan, New York City, on March 30, 2010.[3]


As leader[edit]

  • 1975 John's Bunch (Progressive)
  • 1977 Jubilee (Audiophile)
  • 1977 John's Other Bunch (Progressive) (re-released in 2004)
  • 1977 Slick Funk (Famous Door)
  • 1987 The Best Thing for You (Concord)
  • 1991 John Bunch Plays Kurt Weill (Chiaroscuro)
  • 1992 New York Swing: Cole Porter (LRC) (re-released on Laserlight)
  • 1994 New York Swing: Plays Rodgers & Hart (LRC)
  • 1994 New York Swing: Plays Cole Porter: Do Nothin' Til You Hear From Me (LRC)
  • 1994 New York Swing: Plays Jerome Kern (LRC) (re-released Laserlight, 2003)
  • 1996 With Paul Flanigan: Struttin' (Arbors)
  • 1997 Solo, Vol. 1 (Arbors)
  • 1997 New York Swing: Live on the Norway (Chiaroscuro)
  • 1998 New York Swing (Live)
  • 1999 World War II Love Songs (Groove Jams)
  • 2001 Love in the Spring (Koch)
  • 2002 A Special Alliance (Arbors)
  • 2002 Manhattan Swing: A Visit With Duke Ellington (Arbors)
  • 2003 An English Songbook (Chiaroscuro)
  • 2003 Tony's Tunes (Chiaroscuro)
  • 2006 At the Nola Penthouse:Salutes Jimmy Van Heusen (Arbors)
  • 2008 Plays the Music of Irving Berlin (Except One) (Arbors)
  • 2010 Do Not Disturb (Arbors)

As sideman[edit]

With Buck Clayton and Tommy Gwaltney's Kansas City 9

With Maynard Ferguson

With Gene Krupa

With Bucky Pizzarelli

With Donnie O'Brien

  • Donnie O' Brien Meets Manhattan Swing: In a Basie Mood (Arbors)

With Kenny Davern

With Rex Stewart and Dicky Wells


  1. ^ Archived October 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Nate Chinen (April 1, 2010). "John Bunch, pianist with Goodman and Bennett, dies at 88". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-12-23. John Bunch, a jazz pianist whose elegant style led to prominent sideman posts with Benny Goodman and Tony Bennett as well as an accomplished solo career, died on Tuesday in Manhattan, where he lived. He was 88. His death, at Roosevelt Hospital, was caused by melanoma, said Cecily Gemmell, his wife and only immediate survivor. ...