Joe Gil is a native of Brooklyn, New York. He started playing the trombone in sixth grade. Many people have asked me why I chose the trombone. The main reason was that when I was in grade school they needed people for the band. I knew if I took band I could get out of other classes for private lessons. So I thought this was a great idea. I had the choice of playing tuba, baritone or the trombone. The trombone was the smallest and easiest to carry so it was a no brainer.
He formed his own bands in high school and besides doing classical and big band gigs, was also doing some studio work during this time. After graduating from High School he attended SUNY at Stony Brook for two years and eventually transferred to SUNY at Old Westbury. At SUNY at Old Westbury he had the opportunity to study jazz with Makanda Ken McIntyre. And after graduating from SUNY at Old Westbury performed in Ken McIntyre's jazz orchestra.
After college he moved into Manhattan. He studied for a period of time at the Jazz Cultural Theatre run by Barry Harris and took lessons from both he and Benny Powell. Also at this time he continued to play in Makanda Ken McIntyre's jazz orchestra. Along the way this afforded him to opportunity to play with such players as David Murray, Craig Harris, Sonny Fortune, Cecil Bridgewater, Jimmy Owens, Arthur Blythe, Henry Threadgill and Hamiett Bluett.
During this time he also did gigs with various big bands in the city. He spent some time playing with Warren Smith's Composer Workshop Ensemble. Also playing shows during the summers up in the Catskills. Plus doing many Latin gigs with such musicians as Willie Colon, Hector Lavoe and Yomo Toro.