From the collection of Brad Wheeler comes this latest addition to the Archive.
Drummer Joel Spencer, now on faculty at the U of I, was a staple in the Chicago scene for many years in the 1980’s and 1990s. He has worked with numerous big names in jazz, including 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, and pianists Hank Jones and Cedar Walton.
Spencer would come down to Urbana to play the Table regularly. The quartet featured on this recording was a working group out of Chicago, in town for a two-night stand at the Table in December 1987. Guitarist Akio Sasajima was born in Japan and was a regular in the Chicago scene at this time as well. This quartet also featured Table regulars Mike Kocour on organ and Brad Wheeler on sax. Joel recorded two CD’s with this lineup: “Jazz Hit” and “Interior Window.” Both are out of print. More information about this group is in the Joel Spencer oral history interview by Jeff Machota, found here.
The date is in question. The Table calendar shows this band in town on December 9 & 10, but the recording is clearly labelled December 16. Other curiosities that muddy things a bit is an incomplete second rendition of the theme from “Mannix,” and a second “thanks and see you next time” announcement after a “see you next time” announcement at the end of Push and Shove. It would seem that the source tape, long gone at this point, could have been recorded over a different show with the same band.
Regardless, enjoy this great Chicago band playing hot on a cold December night in Urbana.
Joel Spencer Quartet – December 16, 1987