born on 1/12/1921 in Tipton, IN, United States
died on 30/3/2010 in New York City, NY, United States
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.
During World War II he enlisted in the Air Corps and after intense training became a bombardier on a B17 Flying Fortress. He and his 10-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, and 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, but in 1956 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. After many one-nighters, John settled in New York in 1958, where he joined with Eddie Condon, as well as the be-bop gang of Maynard Ferguson. He recorded with Maynard and many smaller groups.
In 1966 he joined Tony Bennett as pianist and musical director, and stayed in the employ of the singer until 1972. After that stint, he resumed his jazz work with Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Pearl Bailey, and Scott Hamilton all the while going on many world tours and making many recordings with them. Later Bunch was a trio leader, mostly in England. He made many recordings as a leader, most notably with the New York Swing Trio alongside Bucky Pizzarelli and Jay Leonhart. Bunch's most recent record labels had been Chiaroscuro and Arbors Records.
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. He leaves a widow, Cecily Gemmell.
- 1975 John's Bunch (Progressive Records)
- 1977 Jubilee (Audiophile Records)
- 1977 John's Other Bunch (Progressive Records) (re-released in 2004)
- 1977 Slick Funk (Famous Door Records)
- 1987 The Best Thing for You (Concord Records)
- 1991 John Bunch Plays Kurt Weill (Chiaroscuro Records)
- 1992 New York Swing: Cole Porter (LRC Records) (re-released on Laserlight Records)
- 1994 New York Swing: Plays Rodgers & Hart (LRC Records)
- 1994 New York Swing: Plays Cole Porter: Do Nothin' Til You Hear From Me (LRC Records)
- 1994 New York Swing: Plays Jerome Kern (LRC Records) re-released 2003, on Laserlight Records)
- 1996 With Paul Flanigan: Struttin' (Arbors Records)
- 1997 Solo, Vol. 1 (Arbors Records)
- 1997 New York Swing: Live on the Norway (Chiaroscuro Records)
- 1998 New York Swing (Live)
- 1999 World War II Love Songs (Grove Jams Records)
- 2001 Love in the Spring (Koch Records)
- 2002 A Special Alliance (Arbors Records)
- 2002 Manhattan Swing: A Visit With The Duke (Arbors Records)
- 2003 An English Songbook (Chiaroscuro Records)
- 2003 Tony's Tunes (Chiaroscuro Records)
- 2006 At The Nola Penthouse:Salutes Jimmy Van Heusen (Arbors Records)
- 2008 Plays the Music of Irving Berlin (Except One) (Arbors Records)
With Buck Clayton and Tommy Gwaltney's Kansas City 9
- Goin' to Kansas City (Riverside, 1960)
With Bucky Pizzarelli
- 2007 Five For Freddie (Arbors Records)
With Donnie O'Brien
- Donnie O´Brien Meets Manhattan Swing: In a Basie Mood (Arbors Records)
With Kenny Davern
- Live at the Floating Jazz Festival
- The Jazz KENnection