Joel Purnell

Saxophone & Improvising teacher

Based in
Leeds, United Kingdom
Also teaches in Leeds
Joel Purnell | Saxophone & Improvising teacher

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UK based saxophonist, composer and jazz educator, Joel Purnell is acknowledged as one of Europe’s finest emerging contemporary jazz musicians. “A muscular, assertive saxophonist whose fluent solos show a strong sense of direction” (Jazz UK) and “the kind of attacking, melodically twisting approach that shows how powerfully he has absorbed the legacy of Michael Brecker” (The Guardian). Described by American jazz colossus ‘Jerry Bergonzi’ as a saxophonist possessing “amazing fire and energy”, Purnell’s “fire breathing solos” (Jazzwise Magazine) regularly captivate and enthral festival, club and theatre audiences throughout Europe.

Born in Bolton in 1975, Joel made his debut at the age of 15 performing regularly in the thriving jazz clubs and bars of Manchester alongside musicians such as saxophonist ‘Alan Barnes’ and guitarist ‘Mike Walker’. In 1992 Joel won the ‘Most Outstanding Jazz Soloist’ award in the ‘Boosey & Hawkes National Concert Band Festival’ before moving to Leeds in 1993 to study Jazz at LCM. Graduating with Honours in 1996, he received one of the country’s first Jazz Studies Degrees and during this period also firmly established himself on the northern jazz circuit. After completing his degree Joel toured the UK and Europe solidly for 3 years with the West End show ‘The Official Tribute To The Blues Brothers’ before returning to Leeds in 2000 to pursue a career in jazz education and to concentrate on his growing reputation as a performer on the UK and European jazz scenes. Now as one of the most sought after musicians and jazz educators of the moment, Joel Purnell is highly regarded in the educational arena by both jazz academics and students alike. Holding senior lecturer posts on the faculty at LCM since 2000, he lectures in Performance Studies and Jazz Language whilst also leading performance, improvisation and saxophone workshops throughout the UK.

With an ever expanding discography, Purnell has performed and recorded with many highly reputable bands and musicians from a wide range of genres. These include amongst others, a critically acclaimed tour and album (‘New York Minute’) with the ‘Rick Zunigar Quartet’, headed by the legendary Los Angeles jazz guitarist (formerly of the ‘Stevie Wonder Band’, ‘Chick Corea’ and ‘Freddie Hubbard’). Joel also gigs regularly as a permanent member of the innovative ‘Jamil Sheriff Octet’, where he is featured on both of the bands highly praised albums, ‘Daydreams’, and their latest release, ‘Backchat’. Away from the jazz circuit, he has worked along side the American soul diva ‘Viola Wills’ and performs, writes and records with New York’s funk club scene favourites ‘Capri’, who have recently supplied the theme tune for US MTV programme ‘The Paper’. Touring with some of the UK’s best selling rock and pop bands including the Indie group ‘Embrace’, Purnell has appeared at some of the largest live music venues in Britain whilst with another of his many projects, the ‘B3 Horns’, he has recently been featured on the latest album 'My Time' from R&B sensation 'Laura' and the eagerly awaited new album ‘Satellite Sweetheart’ by ‘Dave Formula’ (formerly of the bands ‘Magazine’, ‘Visage’ and ‘The Angel Brothers’).

Joel Purnell's latest critically acclaimed album ‘Red Shift’ is now available from all major digital music stores, including iTunes, Napster, Amazon, CD Baby, Rhapsody and Emusic. Alternatively, please visit for more information and downloads.


Aimed at: Intermediate and Advanced.

Last login: 10 years 26 weeks ago

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