As a testament to Joel Spencers performance skills, a great number of musical relationships developed into offers to tour the U.S. and Europe performing with major jazz artists such as pianists Earl œFatha Hines, Hank Jones, and Cedar Walton; guitarists Barney Kessel, Kenny Burrell, and Herb Ellis; bassists Eddie Gomez and Buster Williams; vocalists Cissy Houston, Billy Eckstine, and Mark Murphy; trumpeters Red Rodney, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, and Freddie Hubbard; saxophonists Sonny Stitt, Benny Golson, Joe Henderson, Eddie Harris, Wayne Shorter, and David Liebman.
As a professional Joel Spencer has performed with a diverse variety of musical artists. Whether the call was for an extended engagement with the Count Basie Orchestra (aka, The Heart of Basie) at the upscale Rainbow Grill in NYC, a filmed performance with jazz vocalist Eddie Jefferson, a national TV appearance with vocalist Barbra Streisand on the Oprah Winfrey Show, 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.
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 Spencers career as a performer, he serves as a full-time instructor in the nationally acclaimed Jazz Performance Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. In 2020, Spencer was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor on Indefinite Tenure.