Joel Baer is an active performing and recording drummer in the Chicago area. Joel gained an interest in drums at an early age after watching his father Jeff play at church on a weekly basis. At the age of 11, he began formal instruction from drum educator Jack Brand in his hometown of Rockford, Illinois. Under Brands guidance, Joel developed his love for Jazz. This led to a B.M. in Jazz Studies from Elmhurst College and M.M. from DePaul University where he studied with Bob Rummage and Dana Hall.
Joel co-leads the Blueshift Big Band in Chicago with guitarist Chris Parsons. With that ensemble, theyve explored music in the tradition of Count Basie and Duke Ellington, as well as diverse influences like Chicago Blues and music from video games. Their first album of original arrangements was released on Nov. 6th, 2020. Their second full length album was released on iam8bit records in November 2022 and features big band arrangements of classic video game music.
Joel also leads a variety of small groups in Chicago and has released two albums: Structures, released in 2017 features originals and arrangements by Joel. Transit in 2019 featured Joel, as well as pianist Ben Bergmark and bassist Aaron Whittier in a classic piano trio format exploring original compositions by the group.
Joel is an in-demand sideman in the Chicago Blues scene. With the Corey Dennison Band, Joel performed and was interviewed for WYCCs concert series on PBS in 2014 and released a self-titled album on legendary Chicago Blues label Delmark Records in 2016. That album led to nominations for a 2016 Blues Music Award for Best Emerging Artist, two Blues Blast award nominations, a Chicago Music Awards nomination (Best Blues Artist) and the winner of the French Academie Du Jazzs prestigious Prix De Blues award, which has been given since the 1960s to luminaries like B.B. King, Lightning Hopkins and John Lee Hooker. In 2017, the Corey Dennison Band recorded Night After Night, which has also received a Blues Music award nomination for 2017 Contemporary Album of the Year.
Joel has been fortunate to perform with blues legends like Buddy Guy, Lurrie Bell, Carl Weathersby, Jimmy Johnson, Demetria Taylor, Eddie Shaw and Sam Lay and a host of current Chicago Blues and Jazz artists including Bob Margolin, Henry Grey, Mike Welch, Mike Ledbetter, Guy King, Fiona Boyes, Andy Poxon, Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Sugar Blue, Eddy Clearwater, Toronzo Cannon, Gerry Hundt, Matt Hendricks, Omar Coleman, Mike Wheeler, Andrew Diehl, Rodney Brown, The Special 20s, Dave Potter, Ronnie Hicks, Mark Colby, Randy Brecker, Wayne Bergeron, Richie Cole, Erin McDougald, Joe Hurt, and has also performed with the Beloit-Janesville Symphony Orchestra.
Matt Ulery – Chicago based bassist/composer and bandleader, Matt Ulery, has developed an instantly recognizable sound. Known for his sweeping lyricism, unconventional phrase structures, expressionistic emotionalism, Ulerys music, from small, diverse chamber ensembles to full orchestras, is informed by the entire spectrum of jazz, classical, rock, pop, and folk specifically American, South American, Balkan, and other European folk styles. He has been performing for 25 years on upright, electric, and brass basses.