MATTHEW KAMINSKI is a rare breed. He’s a jazz musician who performs for a crowd of 40,000 people at least 81 times a year. That’s because Kaminski is the Atlanta Braves organist and plays all their home games. Of course, he doesn’t get to play much jazz on that gig, but he’s having a lot of fun and still has time to pursue his true musical passions. And there’s nothing he’s more passionate about than playing jazz organ.
Matthew is a versatile musician who’s proficient on the piano and accordion as well as the Hammond B3 organ. He’s been playing for the Braves since the 2009 season. Before he got that job, Kaminski was gigging around town and giving private lessons. One of his students told him during a lesson that the Braves wanted to hire an organist and asked if Kaminski was interested. The student made a quick phone call, and before the lesson was over, an interview was set up for the following week. The rest is history.
A popular figure in the baseball world, he’s known for entertaining the crowds with funny musical asides when a player from the opposing team is announced. NBC Sports online wrote that “The Braves Organist is the Coolest Guy in the World.” In addition to playing for the Braves, he also plays for roughly 20 college baseball games a year.
Outside of his seasonal day job, Kaminski is a very busy performing and recording artist. He’s released three studio CDs on Tony Monaco’s Chicken Coup Records, Taking My Time in 2010 and Swingin on the New Hammond in 2014, as well as a self-released digital album in 2013 of music from the ballpark called Stadium Organ Sounds. And now his newest Chicken Coup release, Live at Churchill Grounds, captures his bluesy, swinging Hammond B3 organ style and serious jazz chops in a live performance setting.
Besides leading both a jazz trio and quartet, he’s also a member of a Latin orchestra called Orquesta MaCuba, and he plays accordion for a western swing band called Back in the Saddle and a polka band called The Georgia Polka Connection. He also regularly accompanies jazz singers. Throughout his performing career, Kaminski has shared the stage with notable jazz musicians Dave Stryker, Don Braden, Kimberly Gordon, Henry Johnson, George Fludas, Greg Rockingham, Kyle Ashe, Howard Paul, Grant Green Jr., Gwen Hughes, Russell Gunn, Annie Sellick, and Pat Bergeson.
Kaminski learned to love music from his father, a Polish immigrant who played the accordion and sang Polka tunes around the house. He began studying the organ at the age of five, and continued studying through college, earning a Master of Music degree from Georgia State University. While attending both The University of Arizona and Georgia State University, Matthew was fortunate enough to perform with Jimmy Heath, Jon Faddis, Conrad Herwig, Scott Wendholdt, Dave Samuels, Dave Freidman, and other master jazz musicians. Moreover, Kaminski studied the Hammond B3 with masters Ike Stubblefield, Tony Monaco, and Scott Giddens.
As the organist for the Braves, Matthew has been featured in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Fox 5's "Good Morning Atlanta" and "Good Day Extra," NPR's Weekend Edition, the BBC, and has received positive "on air" reviews from Braves announcers Don Sutton (Hall of Fame pitcher), Chip Carey, Joe Simpson, and Jim Powell.
Kaminski is proud to have been chosen as a Hammond Organ/Leslie Speaker Artist. He performs on the Hammond SK1, SK2, XK3, and Leslie 21 system speakers.