Born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1966, John Stetch was exposed to the sounds of jazz at an early age; his father Myron always had the jazz radio station on in the car, played from his jazz record collection, and taught John the basics of clarinet. Stetch was probably born with jazz in his blood, as 3 of his uncles were performers and founding fathers of the Yardbird Suite, now arguably the most successful jazz club in Canada.
In his early teens, Stetch switched to saxophone, but by his 2nd year of college, he dropped everything to go from casual ‘horn-player’s piano’ to full-time piano studies. The Ukrainian community was a huge influence on Stetch as well, and he spent many years singing, playing and dancing to ethnic folk music. His first teenage show-biz experience was playing nearly a hundred gigs with Dumka, a Ukrainian wedding band. After earning his music degree in Montreal, Stetch began touring and recording across Canada and soon had several Juno Award nominations. He won the Prix du Jazz at the Montreal International Festival in 1998, and has been frequently recorded by the CBC.
After relocating to New York City in 1993 he became a decade-long sideman with Rufus Reid, and has performed around the world at some of the most prestigious jazz venues. He has recorded and/or performed with Seamus Blake, Mark Turner, Jeff Ballard, Jorge Rossi, Charlie Haden, Victor Lewis, Hank Roberts, Ben Street, Billy Hart and others. Stetch has received numerous awards, commissions and grants and was recently hired to compose a piece for the CBC Radio Orchestra’s farewell concert after 70 years.
Stetch is one of a handful of jazz artists to have recorded a solo piano trilogy, and with this he received unanimous praise, including Down Beat calling the debut trilogy release, Ukrainiainsim, “one of the best solo piano recordings in recent years”. Standards and Exponentially Monk, also part of this series, brought in equally glowing reviews, consistently attesting to Stetch’s originality and virtuosity. Now with 10 CDs under his own name, Utne Reader called his music “bold and vital jazz for the 21st century”. A Steinway Artist, Stetch has been featured on several NPR shows: “Piano Jazz”, with Marian McPartland, “Jazz Set” with Branford Marsalis, “Weekend Edition” with Leanne Hansen, and “Listen Here!” with Neil Tesser and Mark Ruffin. Since the release of Bruxin’, Stetch has brought his own music to such highly regarded venues as The Monterey, Saratoga, and Tanglewood Jazz Festivals, The Gilmore Keyboard Festival, The Chautauqua Institution, The Jazz Standard, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Eastman’s School of Music, and Sculler’s.
Stetch’s new CD – “TV Trio”, was Juno Award nominated, and consists entirely of TV themes from the 70’s and 80’s. Shortly after being released to radio, TV Trio quickly placed #13 on the U.S.A. JazzWeek chart, and remained in the top 20 for a month. He is currently based in Ithaca, NY, and teaches at Cornell University and Ithaca College.