Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Bunge, Jens (Uwe)
Bunge, Jens (Uwe), chromatic harmonica player, composer, Protestant pastor, teacher; b. Brilon, Germany, 24 September 1963. His father is Uwe Bunge (b. 1939), and his mother was born Margarete Baumann, 1938. Grew up and still lives in Frankenthal, a small town close to Heidelberg, where he attended Ruprecht-Karl-University to study Protestant theology from 1982-88. In October 1981, he picked up the chromatic harmonica, mainly inspired by Stevie Wonder's harmonica solo on "Isn't She Lovely". Being an entirely self-taught musician, he learned the instrument by listening to all kind of harmonica recordings; but in summer 1982, when he watched the movie "The Getaway" on TV and heard Toots Thielemans' harmonica solos in the soundtrack, he was attracted to jazz as his favourite style of music. In 1985 he joined the local Big Band as a harmonica soloist, with which he toured France and Spain. He soon founded his own jazz group, but was also invited to perform with various groups, as e.g. "Thilo Berg Big Band", as a featured guest together with Barbara Dennerlein, and Ack van Rooyen. From 1986 - 88 he was a member of jazz guitarist Werner Poehlert's jazz group. At a workshop concert near Heidelberg (1988), he played with Art Farmer who praised his "nice, warm sound". Bunge also performed with the "BuJazzO", the German Youth Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Peter Herbolzheimer.
Whenever possible, he travels abroad and plays his harmonica all over the world. Rio de Janeiro (1990), New York (1992/95/96/97/99/2001), St. Petersburg/Russia (1993), San Francisco (1993/95/96), Hong Kong (1993), Sydney (1993), Singapore (1994/95/2001/02), Bangkok (1995), Cape Town/South Africa (1995), Honolulu (1997), Chicago (1998/99/2000/2001), Montreal and Ottawa/Canada (July 1999; at the International Jazz Festival Ottawa, Bunge jammed with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra), and Wellington/New Zealand (2001/2002) are just a few of the locations where he appeared as a featured guest soloist. His close contacts with the jazz scene of Chicago led to a CD recording in 2000, with, among others, local jazz greats Rusty Jones (former drummer of George Shearing), vocalists Jackie Allen and Judy Roberts, and Patricia Barber's bass player Michael Arnopol.
Bunge is also very active in the harmonica scene. At the "European Harmonica Festival" (1996), and at the "World Harmonica Festival" (1997 and 2001) in Trossingen/Germany, he conducted the workshop "Jazz on the chromatic harmonica". In 2000 he was invited to play at the gala concert and to judge in the harmonica competitions of the 3rd Asia Pacific Harmonica Festival in Seoul/Korea. In 2002 he played at the 4th Asia Pacific Harmonica Festival in Atsugi/Japan. He will also perform in the gala concert and conduct a jazz workshop at the next festival in Hong Kong in August 2004. Jens Bunge also writes articles about jazz harmonica for the quarterly issued "Harmonica Educator."
Currently, he focuses on his duo with guitar player Uli Wagner, with whom he recorded two CDs with jazz & poetry.
Werner Poehlert: Workshop auf Basis der Grundlagenharmonik (1986); Harmonicology (1991); It's A Beautiful World (1994); Ralf Gauck: Take a Look Behind (1995); With All My Heart (1996); Peter Lehel: Ballads (2000); Meet You In Chicago (2000); Auf eigenen Fuessen (2001); Ergo Bibamus (2002); Radio interviews and interviews in jazz magazines and newspapers in Germany, Korea, New Zealand and Japan.