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Shawn Purcell

Shawn Purcell, a native of 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 top jazz artists including:  Terell Stafford, Nicholas Payton, Tim Warfield, Sean Jones, Brian Charette, Dana Hall, Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra, The Chicago Jazz Ensemble, The Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, Jim Pugh, Chip McNeill, Jeannie Bryson, Eddie Daniels, Chris Potter, Jerry Bergonzi, Steve Allee and many others.  He has performed at jazz clubs and festivals throughout the nation including: Blues Alley, Smalls, The Jazz Kitchen, The Blue Wisp, The Jazz Factory, Club Bonafide, Bop Stop, Filament at The Vanderelli Room, IAJE, JEN, PASIC and Indy Jazz Fest.

Purcell can be heard on nearly 30 recordings, including Grammy Award-winner Chip McNeill’s, The Whirl; Posi-Tone Records releases Heads Up! and Allied Forces, Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra’s Prime Time, featuring trumpeter Doc Severinsen, Darden Purcell’s Easy Living and Where the Blue Begins and Ben Patterson Jazz Orchestra’s Vital Frequencies featuring saxophonist Chris Potter.

Purcell has spent over 15 years as a member of the military big bands in Washington DC. From 1996-2004, Purcell was the guitarist in the US Air Force premier 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.  Shawn is currently the guitarist with the Washington DC based US Navy Band “Commodores" jazz ensemble.

Symmetricity, Purcell’s first recording as a leader, released on Dallas-based Armored Records, features nine original compositions and one standard. Featuring a dynamic group of world-class musicians, Symmetricity showcases Purcell’s fluid guitar technique and “take no prisoners" approach to improvisation. He is largely influenced by Pat Martino, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown, Grant Green, Mike Stern, John Scofield, Pat Metheny and Peter Bernstein. Purcell’s finely-honed compositional style on Symmetricity blends straight ahead jazz with a more modern aesthetic.

As an educator, Purcell currently serves as adjunct professor of jazz studies 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 Bachelor of Science from Duquesne University, a Master of Arts in Music from Middle Tennessee State University and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Album Review

Ben Patterson Jazz Orchestra: Groove Junkies

Read "Groove Junkies" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Groove junkies searching for a fix need look no further. Mainlining this music--a hard-hitting big band set that satisfies as it soars--offers a serious high. With a pen and mind untrammeled by norms and expectations, and a tight crew of musical compatriots bringing stentorian sound and vision to his book, trombonist-composer Ben Patterson delivers the goods and then some. Patterson's positively electric take on saxophonist Chris Potter's well-titled “Exclamation" offers fireworks at the front end of the ...

Album Review

Darden Purcell: Love's Got Me in a Lazy Mood

Read "Love's Got Me in a Lazy Mood" reviewed by Geannine Reid

Darden Purcell's album Love's Got Me In A Lazy Mood (OA2 Records, 2023) shows her keen ear for the subtleties and nuances which define the West Coast cool jazz vocal sound. Purcell's album comprises eleven tracks which blend the laid-back, sophisticated rhythms and melodic inventiveness that characterize the style with beautiful singing and nimble playing. Purcell is joined by an ensemble of musicians whose contributions are pivotal to the album's charm and success. On six tracks the ensemble ...

Album Review

Shawn Purcell: 180

Read "180" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Guitarist Shawn Purcell's latest CD, 180, is all about swinging; Purcell's trio (Pat Bianchi on Hammond B3 organ, Jason Tiemann on drums) nestles squarely into the groove on the double-quick opener, “Cat and Mouse," which sets an upbeat tone for the album as a whole. The rhythm seldom flags on Purcell's sunny compositions (he wrote all but one of the album's eleven numbers). An exception to the rhythmic rule is the lone standard, Johnny Mercer & Paul ...

Album Review

Ben Patterson: The Way of the Groove

Read "The Way of the Groove" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Ben Patterson is well versed in the way of the groove. The veteran trombonist, best known for his lengthy stint with the Airmen of Note, uses this date to deliver some hip yet sophisticated work that leans on funky foundations, driving ambitions and glorious grit. Showcasing his impressive slide work alongside a positively electric outfit, Patterson digs deep in offering some slick and seriously smart art. The sum of those elements and efforts equals one brilliant party record that's both ...

Album Review

Ben Patterson: Push The Limits

Read "Push The Limits" reviewed by Jack Bowers

It took no more than a quick Google search to find that every member of trombonist Ben Patterson's quintet is (or was) also a member of the U.S. Air Force's flagship jazz ensemble, the Airmen of Note. On Push the Limits, Patterson challenges his fellow airmen to cruise through ten of his elaborate compositions and arrangements, a mission they carry out with what seems to be relative ease. In other words, the technical excellence of the group is undeniable.

Album Review

Shawn Purcell: Symmetricity

Read "Symmetricity" reviewed by Geannine Reid

Guitarist Shawn Purcell has enjoyed a busy career with 15 years as a member of the military Big Bands in Washington DC. From 1996-2004, he was the guitarist in the US Air Force premier 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. This tradition continues with Purcell currently holding the guitar slot with the ...

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"With this collection of originals played by a group of great musicians, Shawn Purcell shows his mastery and maturity as player and composer of the highest level. The tunes are varied and very well crafted, and Shawn shows his great range as a guitarist. This is a beautiful collection of musical stories!!" 

- Peter Bernstein 



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Groove Junkies

Origin Records


The Way of the Groove

Origin Records



Origin Records


Push The Limits

Origin Records



Armored Records



From: Groove Junkies
By Shawn Purcell

Willow Weep for Me

From: Love's Got Me in a Lazy Mood
By Shawn Purcell

Cat and Mouse

From: 180
By Shawn Purcell

Anniversary Patio

From: The Way of the Groove
By Shawn Purcell

Push the Limits

From: Push The Limits
By Shawn Purcell



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