Who’s the most consistently performing team member of the Atlanta Braves? It could be the organist, Matthew Kaminski, who just celebrated his one-thousandth game. In commemoration of the milestone, he released a new vinyl recording called “L.A. Connection,” an album of music for jazz organ accompanied by some serious heavy-hitters in the California jazz scene. Kaminksi joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes to share some impressions from his new collection of music, and tales from the best seat in the stadium.
Not confined just to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” Kaminski’s a connoisseur of the classic jazz organ sound. “Jazz organ was really popularized by Jimmy Smith in the late ‘50s, ‘60s, and the sound of it kind of comes from church… but in jazz, it could go a lot of different ways,” said Kaminski. “What Jimmy Smith did, was he brought a little bit of Charlie Parker and a little bit of soul jazz, like Art Blakey, into playing jazz on the organ, and that’s the sound I grew to love.”
Kaminksi’s album spotlights two other jazz musicians, Bruce Forman and Jeff Hamilton, both located on the West Coast. “The title ‘L.A. Connection’ actually comes from me recording this album in Los Angeles. Jeff and Bruce have been mainstay veterans of the California jazz scene for decades.” Hamilton co-leads the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, and records and tours regularly with Diana Krall. Forman, a guitarist and regular at the Monterey Jazz Festival since the 1970s, has joined musicians like Freddie Hubbard, Richie Cole, and Ray Brown.
In case you’re wondering why he doesn’t have a bass player in the band, Kaminski explained, “As a jazz organist, I get to also be the bass player in the band…. A lot of times we run a bass line with our left hand and our feet together while improvising with our right hand and playing chords. It’s almost like you’re a full orchestra.”
Though providing a long-beloved tradition of classic baseball, the organist isn’t a stranger to the bells and whistles of the digital age; he boasts 21,000 Twitter followers, and often receives their song requests in the form of direct tweets during games. “I’ve got my iPad right next to… the organ, so I see in real time as the tweets roll in. And now, unfortunately, I don’t have enough playing time to do all the requests, but I still manage to do a handful of requests for each game,” said Kaminski.
Here’s hoping Kaminski’s extracurriculars producing slick studio jazz won’t keep him from the field. “This is my thirteenth season. It took me that long to get to one thousand games, and it’s been quite a journey…. Hopefully, I’ll have a few games left in me,” he said.
Matthew Kaminski’s new full-length album “L.A. Connection‘ is out now and available to stream on all major streaming platforms. More information and links to purchase are available at www.matthewkaminski.com.