Keg Purnell

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A fine swing-era drummer, Keg Purnell was a valuable if underrated accompanist. Purnell attended West Virginia State College from 1932-34, playing with the Campus Revellers. He toured with the declining…
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A fine swing-era drummer, Keg Purnell was a valuable if underrated accompanist. Purnell attended West Virginia State College from 1932-34, playing with the Campus Revellers. He toured with the declining King Oliver (1934-35), freelanced, led his own trio, played with the young Thelonious Monk in 1939 and had stints with the big bands of Benny Carter (1939-40) and Claude Hopkins (1941-42). Purnell worked steadily with the popular Eddie Heywood Sextet off and on from 1942-52, also making recordings with Rex Stewart, Teddy Wilson and Willie "The Lion" Smith (1953). Later in his career, Purnell (who was inspired by Chick Webb and to a lesser extent Big Sid Catlett) was part of Snub Mosley's group (starting in 1957). Purnell never led a recording date of his own but appeared on many during his prime years as a sideman.