Pianist, Composer, Educator
Stetch grew up in the clean and cold suburbs of Edmonton, and was heavily involved in the Ukrainian community which is so rich in the Canadian prairies. Half a century ago, his Grandmother Savella wrote the definitive Ukrainian cookbook, and Grandfather Julian wrote the definitive Ukrainian Grammar textbook which was used in many universities. At age 9, John was given his father Myron's clarinet along with some lessons. There were many jazz records in the home and his dad tuned in to the local jazz radio station whenever they drove anywhere. Stetch played in a Ukrainian wedding band for many years which led to one of his most praised albums "Ukrainianism". In his late teens, Stetch became fascinated by the rhythmic and harmonic possibilities and overall beauty and completeness of the piano, and in his late teens, switched to it and managed to attain a music degree from McGill University a few years after.
In 1993 he moved to NYC where he became the pianist in Rufus Reid's band, while living with roommate Seamus Blake. He found a classical teacher that changed his life - Burton Hatheway, (now 88 years old) who studied with Dora Zaslawski at the Manhattan School of Music. Burton's students of note include 3-time Grammy winner Lisa Kaplan and rising star Felix Jarrar.
When recording albums or booking tours in the 90's, Stetch collaborated with greats such as Jeff Ballard, Mark Turner, Chris Cheek, Joe Martin, Jorge Rossy, Mike Murley, Rodney Green, and Bill McHenry. Out of 15 CDs, 6 were Juno nominated, including "TV Trio" which contains re-arranged TV themes, and “Off With The Cuffs” which features Stetch’s radical re-interpretations of Chopin, Bach, Mozart and Shostakovich.
Steinway Artist Stetch now divides his time between Vancouver, where his partner Joanna is, and NYC where his flagship group is – “VulneraVille", featuring Steve Kortyka, Ben Tiberio and Philippe Lemm. Says Stetch: "Never before have I had such great chemistry and devotion".
Steinway Artist John Stetch is a 6-time Juno Nominee, and has written over 50 compositions for solo piano, jazz combo and more recently some classical chamber formats. Originally from Edmonton, he has worked at the top clubs of New York City including Mezzrow, Smalls, Smoke and the Jazz Standard, played on many continents, toured Canada a dozen times as a leader, and was a member of Rufus Reid’s group for nearly a decade. He taught at Cornell University for several years, won the Prix Du Jazz at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 1998, and was a finalist in the Thelonious International Monk Competition twice - once as a composer and once as a performer. Stetch divides his time between Vancouver and NYC, and is especially interested in bringing classical and jazz together, and fusing ethnic and popular music with his personal jazz stamp. He is currently pursuing a Master’s of Music in classical Composition at UBC and is on the faculty of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra School of Music. Stetch just released his 15th CD - Vulneraville: The Vancouver Concert.
Fearless pianist John Stetch pushes the edges of his jazz and classical training to fuse melodies from all around the world; from Mozart to Ukrainian folk music to TV themes. Originally from Edmonton, Stetch started piano late, at age 19, and is now a Steinway Artist and a 6-time Juno nominee. Stetch has played at the top New York clubs – Mezzrow, Smoke, Birdland, the Jazz Standard and just released his 15th CD - Vulneraville: The Vancouver Concert.
“Like hearing a painting by Miro or Matisse come to life…playful technique and unfettered imagination.”
- Paul de Barros, Downbeat
“There is such clarity and so much humor in Stetch’s playing! I've always loved that about him.”
- Rufus Reid, bassist, composer and bandleader
“Fantastic! Truly personal takes on the classics.”
- Joseph Lin, The Julliard String Quartet