Born in Brooklyn, NY. Now resides in Riverdale, NY. Discovered jazz in teens. Studied in 20s with Jimmy Raney, Chuck Wayne, Barry Galbraith. Also composed music from early age. Received critical evaluation and encouragement from Raney and Wayne, also played extensively with and was influenced by fellow guitarist Eddie Diehl. Also from early 20s received invaluable instruction from John Foca, a pianist and teacher in Brooklyn.
1980s: Member of house rhythm section at Barry Harris's Jazz Cultural Theater and gigged and performed with pianists Jaki Byard, Chris Anderson, drummer Vernel Fournier, closely associated with trumpeter Tommy Turrentine and alto saxophone player Clarence C. Sharpe. Gigged with Big Joe Turner (Tramps, 1981). Tenor saxophonist Percy France recommended him to fellow tenor George Kelly for his Jazz Sultans(also including Richard Wyands, Benny Powell, Virgil Jones, others)for a week at the West End Cafe. Also from West End radio airshots over WKCR FM with Kelly, France, others including Ram Ramirez (composer of Lover Man) Basie bassist Jimmy Lewis, drummer Oliver Jackson.
1990s: Long engagement with singer Hadda Brooks at Michael's Pub. Co-led well-received 2 guitar quartet with Eddie Diehl at Smalls. Compostions and arranging featured on concerts, club gigs, recordings, radio dates (Around NY WNYC FM).
Since 2000: Working quartet with tenor Jerry Weldon, organist (the late) Bobby Forrester, drummer Rudy Petschauer. Sitins by invitation with with tenor Bootsie Barnes (Ortlieb's, Philadelphia), Bob Dorough (Iridium, NY). Began producing concert events at Mercy College with colleagues John Eckert; Eddie Locke; John Beal; Richard Wyands; Sean Smith. 2-guitar projects with James Chirillo (produced/performed tribute to Montgomery; Christian; Raney with Chirillo; Eddie Locke, drums; John Beal, bass avail. from artist on DVD) and John Hart; Performed with Hart, Petchauer, organist Don Millitello and appeared on In the Moment (WBAI FM), other gigs. Summer 2004 toured NW Michigan with Petschauer, Eckert, Dutch pianist/organist Bob Wijnen.
Fass is known among peers as much as a tunesmith as improvisor and considers himself a 'presenter of songs'. He is a strong believer in and supporter of composition and composers.
Recent Quotes: I really like Joel's 'Not a Bad November'. It's a very classy tune. I told him to send it to Tony Bennett. Bill Finegan (arranger for Glenn Miller, co-leader Sauter-Finegan band, recent recipient of ASCAP lifetime achievement award)
Joel Fass has been one of the solid, steady guitarists on the NY scene for more than two decades. His warm tone and melodic improvising are well worth hearing for any serious jazz fan Randy Johnston (jazz guitarist, recording artist currently in the Lou Donaldson Quartet)