started out on the trumpet because of his brother’s penchant for
playing the grooves out on his Herb Alpert records. In junior high, he discovered the
drums. His band director
encouraged him, but his newfound love would come with a price: He would have to forfeit his go-kart
in order to acquire his first set of drums.
was well worth it. He started off
on a bargain-basement kit until he grew out of it and warranted a
professional set of Ludwig drums.
In two years, he purchased some Gretsch
drums, and eventually switched to TAMA.
By the time he
went to college, he had set his trumpet aside and began taking lessons from
Randy Jones and Ed Soph. He
spent a couple of years at the University of Bridgeport and then went on
the road with Matt Murphy. In
time, he joined the Pure Prairie League and they shared billing with groups
such as Alabama, the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Lynyrd
Skynyrd, and Marshall Tucker. One of his earliest recordings is
Freddie Jackson’s 1985 album, Rock
It would not
be rock, however, but jazz that would inform his work over the next two
decades. Dave Weckl called him and told him that Michel Camilo was looking for a drummer. He aced the audition and performed
and recorded with him for about four years, appearing on the piano virtuoso’s
self-titled debut and 1992’s Suntan.
In 1991, he
joined Spyro Gyra and
stayed with them for a little over a decade, from 1992’s Three Wishes through 2004’s The Deep End. His tenure with them left little
time for moonlighting, although he did appear on Peter White’s Caravan of Dreams in 1996, Smooth Jazz Café 2 in 2000,
and Bob Baldwin’s Standing Tall
In 2005, he
hooked up with The Steve Kahn Trio, along with Charles Flores, in Basel,
Switzerland. Other artists with
whom he has worked include Scott Ambush, who plays bass guitar with Spyro Gyra, and rhythm &
blues prodigy, Chrissi Poland. In 2006, he made the cut on Telarc’s Sound
& Vision SACD Sampler.
The end of
2009 and the beginning of 2010 were dotted with live dates in the New York
and New Jersey areas with artists such as Vinny
Valentino and Bernie Williams at venues ranging from Caesar’s Palace
at Cove Haven Resort to The Iridium.
A restless soul, Joel is looking to branch out into mixing and
production. It seems he’s
found the pocket.