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, Steve Fidyk, 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; Steve Fidyk’s 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.
As a composer/arranger, Purcell’s works have been commissioned by The Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, The Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Tito Carillo, Joan Hickey, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Texas Tech University and are published by Pro Jazz Charts, Really Good Music, and 3-2 Music. His compositions and arrangements have been performed by The Airmen of Note, US Army Blues, US Navy Band Commodores, Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Steve Fidyk Parlour Project, University of Illinois Concert Jazz Band and Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra to name a few.
"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