Michel tells his story
how he came to the organ:
I was first fascinated by the Hammond organ and the sound when i was 7, when
I discovered Rhoda Scott on TV. Since that time, I've been listeneing to all kind of records with
Hammond organ on them. From 11 to 16 I was playing bass-guitar, accordion and keyboards (Rhodes
Fender-piano / Farfisa organ etc...), in dancing bands every week-end. At 16, I started to learn
piano at the music school ( E.T.M ) of Nouméa / New Caledonia. I got my Golden Medal on
classical piano in 1988, then I went to France(Conservatory of Music in Besançon) for further
classical piano training, from june 1990 to june 1992.
During my stay in France, I (re)discovered the real thing: a Hammond organ model L100, the owner
of which was a friend (Pascal Pavy) who worked in a music shop. I was fascinated, and really fell
in love with the sound, the touch, the look, and at that time, I knew that my musical carrer was
going to take a different way!! Learning and playing the Hammond organ for the rest of my life!
Back to New Caledonia in 1992, I contacted Hammond-Suzuki, and bought my first organ, a XB5 model,
then Suzuki put me in touch with a dealer in Orlando / Florida, "Keyboard Exchange International",
so I ordered my first B3 Hammond organ in 1993. Then I bought CDs from jazz organ stars". As a
self-taught musician I started to learn jazz organ just by listening to the CDs from all the masters
like Jimmy Smith, Jimmy Mc Griff, Jack McDuff, Shirley Scott, Rhoda Scott, Lonnie Smith, Richard
"Groove" Holmes, etc.
In february 1995, I went to America, visiting my Hammond dealer in Orlando for a technical training
on Hammond organs, and for buying an another B3 "collector 1963" Hammond organ (in cherrywood).
During that stay in Florida, I spent a week in Rome / Georgia and met there the great Jimmy McGriff,
and followed him during a week. I was very nervous and exciting to see the great Jimmy Mc Griff on tour,
Jimmy's playing had a huge impact on me!. I love him. My second trip was to California, visiting my
relatives in the Bay Area and meeting Pete Fallico for the first time. So in January 1996, Pete Fallico
introduced me to Larry Goldings and John Scofield in Santa Cruz, to the home blues-organist, Duke Jethro in
Sunnyvale, and the jazz organ master, the "INCREDIBLE" JIMMY SMITH at Yoshi's Jazz-club in Oakland / California.
Back to New Caledonia, I and an event organizer, J.P Quintin, invited Rhoda Scott to come on tour to
South-Pacific in may and december 1996 and october 1998. Also, I invited Tim Neal from Australia (duelling B3s 1996/98),
and the fantastic Tony Monaco with Lewis Nash for the "Jazz-Explosion II" in november 2005.
For more than 10 years now, I'm playing and touring on Hammond organ, teaching piano and jazz organ
at the Conservatory of Music in Nouméa City. I often travel with my "Portable" B3 Hammond organ
in South Pacific, performing and doing master classes in countries like New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu and
Australia. To know more about my musical carrer and much more, please visit my web-site at http://www.michel-benebig.com
Michel has also produced an audio file (06:32 min, 6,126 kB)
speaking about his way to the Hammond organ. Click on the
MP3 logo to listen to Michel !