The pandemic set the world upside down, which inevitably means great recordings fell through the cracks as we navigated through this unprecedented modern time. One of those recordings is from guitarist Shawn Purcell, his album Symmetricity might not be hot off its pressing, but it is still smoking hot and relevant. Purcell has created a decisively modern affair; it was surprising to see this was Purcell’s debut as his acumen with his ax is clearly matured and seasoned. After reading further, you understand why. Purcell dedicated his art to some of the most elite groups the United States has to offer. Purcell spent 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.
Positives: : Purcell has a fluidity to his playing that conveys each tune with fierce heat when needed and tender sensitivity when the song calls for it. His versatility is abundant.
Bottom Line: From the gate, Purcell signals no foolin’ “Swirl” kicks off the album with a sizzling electrified sound. Purcell elaborates on his Pat Martino influence, with all the trimmings of ferocity and fire. Drummer Stockton Helbing takes an equally brimming solo that explores space and time. As bassist Regan Brough explores the supportive pulsating rhythm holding together the rhythm section with a binding glue. Saxophonist Luis Hernandez is not to be missed on this track, his arpeggiated runs and building ideas are superb. “A Bela (For Darden)” is a gorgeous ballad that wife Darden illuminates with vocal adornments rather than lyrics, adding her voice as coloration to the composition. The tune is tender and emotive and bifurcates tenderness and colorscapes. Each song on Symmetricity is a journey, one uniquely symmetrical to the other, but not limited by its balance. That’s the short of it!