Discover more from Wild Mercury Rhythm
Shawn Purcell - 180
(Origin Records, 2022)
Dr. Shawn Purcell, originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a jazz guitarist, educator, arranger, and composer living in the Washington DC area. Purcell earned a BS from Duquesne University, an MA in Music from Middle Tennessee State University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He managed to do this after a career in the US Air Force where he performed with several military ensembles, including the US Air Force jazz ensemble, The Airmen of Note, the band founded to honor and continue the work of Glenn Miller and his wartime Army Air Forces Orchestra.
Purcell's composing and performance reflect his education and experience, placing the bar high in both arenas. On his sophomore effort, Purcell scales back his band size from his debut recording, Symmetricity (Armoured Records, 2019), which featured Luis Hernandez on tenor saxophone on several tracks settling into a traditional guitar-organ trio with organist Pat Bianchi and drummer Jason Tiemann. Both recordings feature vocalist Darden Purcell (Where The Blues Begin (Armoured Records, 2017) and Easy Living (Armoured Records, 2017)).
Where Symmetricity was an update on a hard-bop-blowing session, 180 emerges as a carefully refined exposition, Purcell's tone assertive and muscular. The release is dominated by several high-energy Purcell compositions teeming with velocity and momentum. The sole standard, Johnny Mercer and Paul Francis Webster's "A Time For Love," features Darden Purcell's pristine alto voice and Shawn Purcell's most melodic playing. While counting as influences Pat Martino, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, and George Benson, Purcell's composing and playing elevates somewhere above these influences, securing his style and the compelling character of this release.