Joel is a photographer and educator in Chicago. For the past three years he has been studying upright bass and improvisation with Tatsu Aoki. Since then he has had the fortune of playing with some of Chicago's finest improvisers including Aoki, David Boykin, Nicole Mitchell, Dave Rempis, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Yosef Ben Israel, Josh Abrams and Greg Ward. He's currently a member of Boykin's Microcosmic Sound Orchestra and Ways & Means Trio.
The Ways & Means Trio (Joel Wanek, Jayve Montgomery, and Daniel Godston) explores ambient soundscapes of rituals that involve centering and searching, droning, and electro-acoustic explorations. Ways & Means has performed at the SpareRoom, Lucid Artists Co-Op Gallery, Muse Café, Hotti Biscotti, and other venues in the Chicago area. Since December 2005, the trio has been hosting The Lower & Upper Limits Series at Muse Café, which explores collaborations between poets and musicians and relationships between language and music; so far, Ways & Means has collaborated with these poets in the series—Lisa Hemminger, Michael C. Watson, Mars Gamba-Adisa Caulton, Philasoph, Sterling Plumpp, Al DeGenova, Toni Asante Lightfoot, and members of the Neighborhood Writing Project.