Above Joel plays his solo percussion set-up for California Shakespeare Theater's "All's Well that Ends Well"; The percussion set-up for Paul Dresher's chamber-opera "The Tyrant"; The members of Kaila Flexer and Next Village/Third Ear.
Joel prefers playing on unconventional percussion of all sorts, though the often focus of Joel's acoustic percussion performance has also been playing marimba in small groups, much the way a vibraphonist fits into a typical jazz ensemble.
Typical of this is Joel's earlier work with Kaila Flexer and Third Ear and Jack West and Curvature. The instrumentation of these groups worked well with marimba. Third Ear featured Kaila Flexer on violin with a 2nd violin and bass, while Curvature featured Jack West on 8-string acoustic guitar with saxophone (or cello) and percussion. The warm sound of a marimba works well with these small acoustic ensembles. (Unfortunately Third Ear is no longer an active ensemble and Curvature now features the Marimba Lumina.)
Beginning his training with classical snare drum and drum set styles, Joel's playing is also informed by study of Afro-Cuban and North Indian tabla drumming, as well as steel pan.
Joel's percussion experience at Northern Illinois University included study with Rich Holly and Robert Chappell and participation in a variety of world music ensembles including gamelan and African ensembles. Joel studied tabla with Robert Chappell and steel pan with native Trinidadian Cliff Alexis and Al O'Connor.
At Mills College he focused on contemporary music with William Winant. He studied Afro-Cuban drumming with Ruben Alvarez in Chicago. During high school, Joel studied timpani and mallets with Tele Lesbines of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and drum set with John Ruka of D.I.G.
A couple of early influential experiences included attending the Ludwig "International Percussion Symposium" in 1982, and more significantly, the Birch Creek Music Academy summer Mallet Workshop with Gordon Stout, Leigh Howard Stevens, Brad Stirtz, James Dutton and Alan O'Connor in 1983.
Instruments and links:
When touring with marimba, Joel most often employed a small Ludwig 3-octave F-F rather than his 4-1/3 Octave Musser 250. It suits ensemble work well and is quite portable. A good description of what a marimba is and some good related links are on Greg Latta's page. Marimbist Nancy Zeltsman also has an excellent marimba description on her web site. The large range instruments by Ron Samuels at Marimba One are worth checking out if you think size matters. Steel drum: Joel plays a high tenor D-pan made by Cliff Alexis. For information about vibraphone, check out the The Vibe.net .