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Michael studied percussion with Jim Petercsak at the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York at Potsdam and graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education. He later attended the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University under the tutelage of Keith Copeland and graduated in 1990 with a Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies. Michael served as a Graduate Assistant to Dan Morgenstern at the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies.
Michael has performed and/or recorded with jazz luminaries Gary Smulyan, Harry Allen, Sharel Cassity, Bruce Barth, Joe Locke, Rene Flemming, Gene Bertoncini, Marian McPartland, J.R. Monterose and Nick Brignola. He was a member of the Planet Arts Trio, the Spike Jones Orchestra and the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra. He has toured the United States extensively, performing at numerous concert halls, colleges, clubs and festivals and has performed in Europe and Africa.
Michael is currently the leader of four ensembles, Jazz Vibes, BOPITUDE, the Gary McFarland Legacy Ensemble and the Phil Allen/Michael Benedict Concert Jazz Band. Michael has released five recordings to date. Downbeat Magazine picked BOPITUDE “Five and One” as one of the Best Albums of 2013. His most recent release, “Circulation: The Music of Gary McFarland”, was an Editor’s pick in Downbeat Magazine and listed as one of the Best Jazz Albums of 2015 by National Public Radio and critics Ted Gioa and Scott Yanow.
In 2015 Michael retired from teaching high school instrumental music in Greenville, NY where he taught for twenty-five years. He has served as the past president of the Albany Musicians Union and the Greene County Music Educators Association. He is currently a member of the GRAMMY Foundation. Michael endorses Silverfox Drumsticks.