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Joel Spencer

PERFORMS WITH: Independent

About the Artist

As a testament to Joel Spencer’s performance skills, a great number of musical relationships developed into offers to tour the U.S. and Europe performing with major artists such as pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines, guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Eddie Gomez, trumpet artists Red Rodney, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, Freddie Hubbard, saxophonists Sonny Stitt, Benny Golson, Joe Henderson, Eddie Harris, Wayne Shorter, David Liebman, pianists Hank Jones and Cedar Walton.

As a professional Joel has performed with a diverse variety of musical artists. Whether the call was for an extended engagement with the Count Basie Orchestra at the upscale Rainbow Grill in NYC, Chicago club appearances with R&B vocalist Sissy Houston, a filmed performance with jazz vocalist Eddie Jefferson, a national TV appearance with vocalist Barbra Streisand, or a soundtrack for a major motion picture featuring pop vocalist Barry Manilow, the highest level of instrumental virtuosity and musical versatility was required of Spencer in each of these demanding musical environments.

Joel’s formal training as a percussionist (paired with drum set performance) has resulted in numerous appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra featuring such artists as vocal stylist Michael Feinstein, Broadway vocalists Patti Lupone and Kristin Chenoweth, trumpeter Doc Severinsen, and featured performance and recording dates with former Chicago Symphony conductor and world-renowned piano recitalist Daniel Barenboim.

From 1985-2005 Spencer greatly succeeded in the competitive studio recording industry in Chicago where he recorded hundreds of national TV product commercials, movie soundtracks, and over 50 nationally/internationally released jazz recordings.

Outside of Joel’s efforts as a Gretsch Artist-Clinician, he currently serves as a full-time Assistant Professor of Music in the highly acclaimed Jazz Studies Program in the School of Music at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Joel Spencer’s career as a jazz artist continues to provide him with an extensive palette of performances and recordings, as he has performed with artists from virtually every era and genre of jazz!

We asked... Why Gretsch?

The history of modern jazz drumming was discovered, performed, and explored on Gretsch Drums. After a number of endorsements, I’ve finally returned home to the greatest drums on the planet - Gretsch!!


Chick Webb, Papa Joe Jones, Buddy Rich, Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, Philly Jo Jones, Mel Lewis, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, and Jack DeJohnette,


Take the time to practice with diligence, patience, and commitment. Take every opportunity to hear music in the “live” setting, and learn the musical responsibilities of drumming first-hand.

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For years, Gretsch’s Catalina Club has been the go-to drum set for versatility and reliable tone.

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Gretsch Marquee Series

New from Gretsch® Drums, the Marquee series delivers explosive, open tones, professional features and rock solid performance at an accessible price. Marquee shells combine 7-ply North American maple with a slight softer maple species that are cut with classic Gretsch 30-degree bearing edges and fit with 2.3mm triple flanged hoops.

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