May 25, 2024

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CD review: Shawn Purcell – 180 – 2022: Video, CD cover

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.

Guitarist Shawn Purcell, who is based in the Washington DC area, worked with the U.S. Air Force’s The Airmen Of Note for 15 years and with the US Navy Band Commodores jazz ensemble. He has appeared on over 30 recordings including with singer Darden Purcell, tenor-saxophonist Chip McNeill and trombonist Ben Patterson. In 2019 he led his first album, Symmetricity, and the recent 180 (his debut for the Origin label) proves to be a giant step forward.
For this consistently stimulating project which is mostly comprised of his originals, the guitarist leads a trio with organist Pat Bianchi and drummer Jason Tiemann. Darden Purcell makes three guest appearances while trombonist Patterson helps out on “Soul Blue.”

From the start of the opening “Cat And Mouse,” it is obvious that Shawn Purcell has his own sound on guitar. He plays with great passion on this uptempo romp and there are spots for Bianchi’s fluent organ and drummer Tiemann, making this an excellent introduction to the trio. There is plenty of variety to be heard throughout this set as is displayed on the augmented and extended blues “180” and the adventurous “Fond Illusion”; the latter has Purcell playing quite freely and with intensity over a groove.

Darden Purcell contributes some warm and attracting singing to the standard “A Time For Love” before the trio digs into the cooking “ChickaD” which is a close relative of Miles Davis’ “Half Nelson.” “A Long Stroll” has a complex melody that almost sounds like someone talking, a mood and feeling that is continued throughout the organ and guitar solos. One of the set’s high points is the boppish but modern “Hoodang” which builds in momentum and excitement as it evolves. A contrast is offered on “LTG (Little Tori Girl”), a melodic and thoughtful piece that one could imagine being given lyrics. The rewarding set concludes with the funky “Window Games” (which contains some colorful drum breaks), the struttin’ medium-tempo blues “Soul Blue,” and the heated “Search And Destroy.”

There are no slow moments on 180 or throwaway tunes, and the trio never coasts. Shawn Purcell is consistently inventive while altering his sound and approach depending on the song, always serving the music With Bianchi contributing many colorful solos and the supportive Tiemann keeping the momentum flowing, 180 is an update on the classic organ trio. The result is an enjoyable outing that is heartily recommended.

1. Cat and Mouse 6:34
2. 180 7:24
3. Fond Illusion 7:46
4. A Time for Love 7:40
5. Chicka D 5:25
6. A Long Stroll 5:30
7. Hoodang 5:43
8. LTG (Little Tori Girl) 7:55
9. Window Games 6:08
10. Soul Blue 6:45
11. Search and Destroy 5:30

Shawn Purcell – guitar
Pat Bianchi – Hammond C3 organ
Jason Tiemann – drums & cymbals
Darden Purcell – voice (4,5,10)
Ben Patterson – trombone (10)

New CD – 2022 – Buy from here

Shawn Purcell 180 (Origin 82856)

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