Michael Benedict was born in Rome, NY in 1957. He started playing the drums at age 10 and was performing professionally by age 15. He took up the vibraphone at around age 16 and shortly thereafter started to play gigs on vibes as well as drums. Michael graduated from the Crane School of Music at the State University College at Potsdam, NY in 1979 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education.
From 1979-87 Michael lived in the Capital Region of New York State working as a professional musician and private percussion instructor. During this period, he worked with groups and individuals such as John Toomey, Doc Scanlon’s Rhythm Boys and with legendary tenor saxophonist J.R. Monterose. Michael performed in most of the jazz venues in Upstate New York as well as some road gigs to places such as Resorts International Casino in Atlantic City.
Michael lived in the New York City area from 1987-90 where he played with musicians and groups including Andy Stein, Peter Malinverni, Loren Shoenberg and the Spike Jones Orchestra. Michael played at many venues in NYC including the Savoy Ballroom, Michael’s Pub, Waldorf Astoria Hotel and Tavern on the Green. During this period he joined the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra and continued to play with this group on and off until 2000. With ‘Paragon’, Michael toured the United States extensively, playing concerts in numerous colleges, festivals and concert halls including Lincoln Center, the Smithsonian Institute, West Point Academy, and the Waterloo Jazz Festival. He also performed with ‘Paragon’ at the Brunknerhause in Lindt, Austria in 1997.
During the NYC period, Michael attended Rutgers University and earned his Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies in 1990. At Rutgers, Michael was an assistant to Dan Morgenstern, the Director of Jazz Studies at Rutgers and former Downbeat Magazine editor.
Michael moved back upstate and led a Jazz Big Band from 1994 until recently when he decided to concentrate on the vibraphone. The Michael Benedict Big Band was filmed for a documentary film on the life of composer/arranger Gary McFarland by filmmaker Kristian St. Clair from Seattle, Washington. “This Is Gary McFarland” is currently being shown across the county and in Europe at various film festivals.
Michael started playing vibraphone recently after many years away from the instrument. On June 10, 2006 he premiered his group, Michael Benedict Jazz Vibes, at Conkling Hall in Renssealearville, NY. The group has released its first CD called “The New Beat”. Backing up Michael are Greg Speck on piano, Linda Brown on bass, Mark Foster on drums and Brian Melick on percussion.