This album confirms what those on the Pacific rim have long known and what is just dawning on the wider Jazz world. We have a fully fledged B3 master in our midst and the time for proper acknowledgement is due. ‘Black Cap’ should gain Michel Benebig the wider recognition that he deserves.
Michel has always been an artist with astonishing chops but like all great musicians he also has good judgement. He knows when to lay out, when to comp gently and when to lay down a burning foot-thumping groove. If you listen carefully you will hear how totally in the pocket this man is. He sounds as if he could swing with one hand tied behind his back. This is about timing, an innate sense of swing, a relentlessly propulsive groove but above all taste. This is a sound that many aim for but few can master.
I will also mention his pedal work, which lays down such solid walking-bass lines that you shake your head in disbelief. It made me pick up the album cover to see if I had missed a bass player . This album has come to the attention of organ trio/quartet specialists and their praise for it has been strong. The various comments have invariably drawn attention to the astonishing pedal work.
The numbers on ‘Black Cap’ are all Michel’s compositions and the track list is carefully balanced. This is great groove music and that would be enough, but the album possesses an extra something – a presiding spirit that holds you until the last note. I was already familiar with his ‘Brother Jack’; a tribute to Brother Jack McDuff. On the album this is fast paced and crackling with energy. In perfect contrast is the slow burner on track 6 – titled ‘Black Groove’.
These days Michel spends a lot of time away from his native New Caledonia, gigging up and down the western seaboard of the USA. The other musicians on the album are all from the west coast and the line up is very impressive.
These guys are serious Los Angeles heavyweights and their biographies are simply staggering. Saxophonist Doug Webb has played and recorded with everyone from Horace Silver to Quincy Jones and has worked on several Clint Eastwood films including ‘Mystic River’ and ‘Million Dollar Baby’.
Frank Potenza on guitar is well-known for his years with pianist Gene Harris. He has played with Dizzy Gillespie, Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison (long a favourite of mine), James Moody and more. He was a protegé of the immortal Joe Pass and no guitarist can carry higher credentials than that.
Lastly there is drummer Paul Kreibich. He has worked with Carmen McCrae, Red Rodney, Kenny Burrell, The Woody Herman band and dozens of luminaries. He was Ray Charles drummer for three years and spent considerable time with the Gene Harris quartet. These are the very musicians to have in your corner if you have something special to say. Michel does.
I would defy any lover of B3 Groove jazz to fault this album. In this world of financial turmoil and endless conflict, this is the eternal balm. Order it from Amazon as a CD or download – do it now.
Also an older review is located on – https://jon4jaz.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/michel-benebig-soul-on-pacific-soul/
What: ‘Black Cap’
Where: Recorded in Pasadena USA 2012 – distributed by Rhombus Records – iTunes or Amazon
Who: Michel Benebig (leader, B3 organ, composer)
With: with Doug Web (sax) , Frank Potenza (guitar), Paul Kreibich (drums)