A late bloomer by any stretch of the imagination, this native of Edmonton, Canada, didn’t begin playing piano until age eighteen. However, he did show an interest in music at an early age, and as a result, his father handed down his own clarinet and taught him the basics when John Stetch was nine. A few years later, Stetch switched to alto saxophone and eventually completed his first year of university on classical tenor saxophone. “When I first broached the idea of playing piano, several of my teachers actually chuckled at the idea that I could suddenly take up piano so late in life. Come to think of it, they actually discouraged me. But I knew it was something I had to do … I just felt that the piano was my higher calling. I was inspired by the rhythmic and harmonic potential, and it’s such an enjoyable instrument to work at alone.”
Stetch's life as a professional musician began when he moved to Montreal, gradually breaking into the ‘big city’ jazz scene there. After working for several years in that city, Stetch recorded his first album, Rectangle Man, in 1992, which led totours, additional recordings, and frequent airplay across Canada, including CBC’s popular “Jazz Beat.” Stetch moved to New York later that year and found himself regularly participating in the legendary Park Slope jam sessions � an almost mandatory rite of passage in the New York jazz community. He continued to work with his own group as well as with many others as a sideman.