The organ trio setting (organ-guitar-drums) is a classic jazz ensemble configuration that by now has a lot of history to it. Whether it be the older recordings from Wes Montgomery or Pat Martino, to more recent ones from Peter Bernstein and Dave Stryker — so much good guitar playing has been heard over the years in this setting.
So, when you want to release an album featuring this instrumentation, it can be a challenge to live up to the history of great music in the lineage.
Thankfully with this new album from Shawn Purcell, we are greeted with both intense fire and romantic moods tastefully packed for our ears.
We have 11 tracks (10 originals and a cover) on this record. The one cover song is A Time For Us, featuring Darden Purcell on vocals.
The album opens with Cat And Mouse, an uptempo swing piece that sets the mood for the album.
The second track, 180 brings us some blues with the underlying hypnotic bass ostinato drawing us into the feeling of the piece.
In Fond Illusion, we have some ECM odd meter goodness with Shawn playing some overdriven guitar again. Shawn’s solo here is colorful with rhythmic diversity and different kinds of melodic ideas from blues to bop to some hip diminished phrases.
Contrasting that, we go next into A Time For Us which gives a nice change of mood with a nice vocal interpretation of this piece from Darden Purcell.
Pat Bianchi plays some burning lines on ChickaD, the fifth track on 180 which swings to bring the energy level up after our nice ballad moment in the previous track.
Talking about variety, next up is an Afro Cuban feel tune called A Long Stroll. I really enjoyed the double time lines that Shawn plays on A Long Stroll & the solo overall is so good, probably my favorite guitar solo on the record.
The trading on Hoodang is pretty neat and I do love the head melody for this track which has a John Scofield feel to it. (I later confirmed the Sco influence reading Shawn’s explanation for the origins of the piece, which he shared in the lead sheet eBook he released to accompany the record.)
While we’re at it, so yes, in addition to the album release, Shawn has also released two eBooks, one collecting the lead sheets of the compositions on the album and another with the guitar solos transcribed. Reviews of both the eBooks will be coming soon on the site.
Back to the songs, LTG (Little Tori Girl) is a beautiful ballad that gives me some ‘Round Midnight (Monk) and East Coast Love Affair (Rosenwinkel) vibes. I have a soft spot for ballads in general so this piece is wins the “probably the tune I’m most likely to cover” award. Great solos from both Shawn and Pat on this track, which is a treat since even the melody is such a beautiful statement to begin with.
Soon after, we have Window Games which goes back into the overdriven guitar tone in this funky track. The drum solo here from Jason Tiemann is some serious stuff got me grinning all too happy to listen to it right before the head comes back in.
On Soul Blue, we get to hear a bluesy melody played on the guitar and sung by Darden Purcell. I particularly dig the soli section that segues into the guitar solo. Right after that, we hear Ben Patterson’s swinging trombone solo that leads nicely into Pat’s bluesy attitude filled organ solo.
Closing the record, Search And Destroy gives us a strong way to close this record. The interaction on this track is top notch throughout the solos and I love the drum solo we hear before the head out.
In conclusion, this is a great record for jazz guitar fans & contemporary jazz guitar in particular. If you’re a student of jazz guitar, there’s a lot to digest & study here too – would recommend the accompanying eBooks for further insight into Shawn’s creative process & writing.
Find more information about Shawn Purcell where you can stream, purchase & download his albums at his official website here: https://www.shawnpurcell.com/
I received a complimentary advance copy of this album courtesy of Shawn Purcell. Thank you for the album.
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About Shawn Purcell
“I can’t find the words that convey the feelings that emerge from the presence of a great player. It happens once in a while and now is one of those times…” – Pat Martino
“…SLAMMIN’ record! Sounds fantastic…” – Sean Jones
“On this recording, Shawn has found a unique blend of what makes jazz, jazz. While it is firmly rooted in the best of the organ trio jazz sound, the music points to what is possible. Filled with modern and interesting harmonies and melodies, the music never loses the human touch. This is rare indeed. Music that you can feel and music that engages the mind that is just plain enjoyable. All three musicians play great solos but it is Shawn, through his compositions and modern approach that sets the tone. If you are a musician, there is a lot to enjoy and contemplate on this recording. If you are a jazz lover, you will be right at home with music that is warm and swings. I enjoyed the journey through this beautiful musical landscape. Shawn and crew have created a rich expression of creative and warm music. Well done.”
– Rodney Jones
Dr. Shawn Purcell, originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a jazz guitarist, educator, arranger, and composer in the Washington DC region. Purcell has shared the stage, recorded with, and/or toured with Pat Bianchi, Terell Stafford, Nicholas Payton, Tim Warfield, Sean Jones, Brian Charette, Regina Carter, The Chicago Jazz Ensemble, The Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, Jim Pugh, Chip McNeill, Eddie Daniels, Chris Potter, Steve Allee, Jason Tiemann and many others. He has performed at jazz clubs and festivals nationally and internationally including: Blues Alley, Smalls, The Jazz Kitchen, The Blue Wisp, The Jazz Factory, Club Bonafide, JazzB (Sao Paulo), DC Jazz Fest, JEN, PASIC, IAJE, Savannah Jazz Festival and Indy Jazz Fest.
Purcell can be heard on nearly 40 recordings including Chip McNeill’s The Whirl, Steve Fidyk’s Heads Up! and Allied Forces, Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra’s Prime Time, featuring Doc Severinsen, Darden Purcell’s Easy Living and Where the Blue Begins, The Capitol Bones’ The Beat Goes On, Ben Patterson’s Push the Limits, and Ben Patterson Jazz Orchestra’s Vital Frequencies featuring Chris Potter. Symmetricity, Purcell’s first recording as a leader, was released in 2019 on Armored Records. As a leader and sideman, stay tuned for new releases from The String Queens, The Capitol Bones, Mike Tomaro Big Band, The Ben Patterson Group, The Way of the Groove, (Origin Records) and Shawn Purcell 180, Purcell’s 2nd release as a leader and debut release on Origin Records.
Purcell has spent over 18 years as a member of the military big bands in Washington DC. From 1996-2004, Purcell was the guitarist in the US Air Force jazz ensemble, The Airmen of Note. During his time with “The Note,” Purcell performed throughout the world including England, Germany, Turkey, Luxembourg, The Azores, Belgium, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Kuwait, and Bahrain. He is currently the guitarist with the Washington DC based US Navy Band “Commodores” jazz ensemble.
As an educator, Purcell currently serves as adjunct professor of jazz guitar and jazz arranging at George Mason University. He has served on the jazz faculty at Towson University, Middle Tennessee State University, and was a Visiting Lecturer in Jazz Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington, under the direction of David Baker. He has led master classes at major universities throughout the country. He has served on the faculty for The National Jazz Workshop, Maryland Summer Jazz Camp and The National Guitar Workshop. Purcell has also penned educational articles for Jazz Guitar Life, Premier Guitar and DownBeat Magazine. 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.