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John Bunch, At the Nola Penthouse, Salutes Jimmy Van Heusen

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Album Review

John Bunch hardly shows signs of slowing down in his eighties, still proving himself as a very lyrical jazz pianist in this CD salute to composer Jimmy Van Heusen. Since all 15 songs are rather well known from their vocal versions (many were hits for Frank Sinatra), Bunch had his work cut out for him to create fresh adaptations of each piece. Well accompanied by bassist David Green and drummer Steve Brown, he opens with a jaunty take of "All This and Heaven Too," followed by a lush, deliberate take of the ballad "Nancy with the Laughing Face." He loosens up "I Thought About You" a bit by tackling it at a brisk clip, while his stride arrangement of "But Beautiful" is full of humor. His scoring of "The Second Time Around" is a bit darker than typical settings. It is hard to beat the elegance of Bunch's setting of "Moonlight Becomes You." With so many record dates under his belt accompanying great vocalists, John Bunch never strays too far from any of these great melodies, and his improvisations build upon each song's framework in a logical manner, without getting overly predictable. Green and Brown (the latter frequently using brushes) provide excellent support throughout the sessions. This very relaxing CD is perfect for unwinding after a busy day.


Born: 01 December 1921 in Tipton, IN

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

John Bunch had a long and distinguished career even if his abilities as an accompanist and supportive player sometimes led to him being taken for granted. He started on piano when he was 11 and within a year was playing in local clubs. Bunch, a flexible pianist who was most inspired by Teddy Wilson, generally played locally until working with the big bands of Woody Herman (1956-1957), Benny Goodman, and Maynard Ferguson (1958) when he was already in his mid-thirties. Bunch worked in the small groups...
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