Recordings and Performances
In 2008, Cecil released his debut CD, Talk To The Hand. To date, the CD continues to receive airplay on popular internet radio streams, and non-commercial terrestrial radio stations. Talk To The Hand is listed as the #8 album among the 2009 Favorite albums on Cafe' Jazz Radio, Canada's Smooth Jazz Connection. Cecil is listed at #14 on Cafe' Jazz Radio's listing of Top 50 Artists. On the chart of Top 50 Selections, Cecil's song "Falling Through Time" ranked at #4 and "Rio De Maio" ranked at #16.
Cecil released his second album Party In The Back in June of 2015. The album features the singles "Remember The Time", his cover of the Michael Jackson featuring Brian Culbertson, and "J Street" featuring Michael Lington. Also appearing on the album are sax men Darren Rahn & Phil Denny and guitarist Adam Hawley.
In January 2011, Cecil was a headliner for the inaugural IJAMS Jazz Cruise, sharing the stage with independent jazz artists Dean James, LeNora Jaye, Ian Villafana, Buddy Jordan, Jere B, and Damon Williams. In October 2011, Cecil shared the stage with Tom Braxton and Andre Delano for "Sax On The River 2011", a benefit event for cancer awareness and treatment, and with Kim Waters for the national release of Kim's CD "This Heart of Mine".
In 2012, Cecil was a featured artist at Brian Culbertson's Napa Valley Jazz Getaway 2012, sharing the stage with BC and Brian's band. Cecil and his band performed with Steve Oliver, Darren Rahn, & Paul Brown for "ROCKin The Vineyard" a benefit event for early autism treatment. He performed again with Darren Rahn and with Tom Braxton and Dean James later that year.
In 2013, Cecil made his second appearance as a featured artist at Napa Valley Jazz Getaway 2013 with Brian Culbertson and Michael Lington at several Jazz Getaway events. With his band, Cecil also played concerts with Vincent Ingala, Jessy J, Steve Oliver, Elan Trotman, Michael Lington and Lin Rountree.
In 2014, Cecil was once again a headline artist at Napa Valley Jazz Getaway 2014, with Brian Culbertson and Michael Lington. He also played with Michael at several Getaway events. Cecil and his band played Jazz On The Waterfront in Stockton with Phil Denny. In October, Cecil was a returning headliner at Sax On The River 2014. He and his band performed with Lebron and Elan Trotman for SOTR 2014 in Sacramento and with Lebron at Jazz On The Rooftop in Stockton.
In 2015, Cecil made his 4th appearance as a featured artist at Napa Valley Jazz Getaway 2015, co-hosting the Jazz Getaway Welcome Dinner with Brian Culbertson and Eric Darius. He also performed in concerts for the Jazz In the Courtyard series in Stockton, CA as music director for Althea Rene and Nelson Rangell. Cecil returned to Sax On The River 2015 in Sacramento as a headliner, as music director for Elizabeth Mis and Generation Next (Lebron, Lin Rountree, & Nicholas Cole) in October.
In May 2016, Cecil performed with Elan Trotman for Jazz On The Waterfront. He made his 5th appearance at Napa Valley Jazz Getaway 2016 in June, co-hosting the Welcome Dinner with Brian Culbertson and guest artists Vincent Ingala, Marcus Anderson, and Morgan James. He also performed at the Jazz Getaway Thursday Wine Down party with Althea Rene. In July, Cecil performed with Nelson Rangell and Marc Antoine for the KJZY 93.7 Jazz and Wine Series in Santa Rosa. Taking center stage, Cecil made a highly successful debut appearance at the 30th annual Catalina Island Jazz Trax Festival as a headline artist in October, opening for Brian Culbertson in the famous Avalon Ballroom. In November, Cecil played a sold-out concert to loyal fans as a headliner for Inner City Productions "Jazz On The Waterfront" series in Stockton, CA.
Take It From The Top
Cecil has been playing piano since age 5. As part of a military family, he's lived on the East and West Coast and in the Caribbean, with a new piano teacher in each city. He recalls "When my parents started me on piano lessons, we didn't have a piano yet. So I would practice on a cardboard fold-out keyboard, the kind that came with the piano method books, laid out on the kitchen table. When I got to my piano lesson, that was the first time I had actually played those songs on a real piano."
It wasn't until his high school years in Puerto Rico that Cecil began to develop a direction in music. Guided by his music teacher, Theresa Perry, Cecil got to learn about many different styles of music. Of his long-time friend, Cecil says "Theresa was great; she would take me to concerts in San Juan to see groups like 'Blood, Sweat, and Tears' and we'd go talk to the keyboard players. One time, we went to the Palmas Del Mar resort to check out a lounge pianist named Avo Uvezian; back then, Avo's claim to fame was that he had written the song 'Strangers In the Night'. (Today, Avo is best known for his eponymous brand of cigars, one of Cecil's favorites.) Avo let me play a few tunes while he was on break. That was my first piano bar gig."
The Old College Try
Cecil was accepted to the Music Conservatory at University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA at the age of 16. Studying theory-composition, he followed in the footsteps of UOP's most famous musical alumnus, the late Dave Brubeck. Cecil remembers meeting Dave Brubeck his sophomore year: "We were going to do his 'La Fiesta De La Posada' for a Christmas concert that year. The piece was for choir, orchestra, and soloists, with a jazz trio. During a break in one of the long rehearsals, I got to talk to Mr. Brubeck and I asked him if he had any advice for me as a theory-comp major. He smiled and said 'Two things. Always keep writing. And don't listen to what they tell you here.' Legend has it that Mr. Brubeck's faculty advisor had told him that he should consider getting a teaching credential, because he probably wouldn't amount to much as a composer."
While in college, Cecil got together with some musician friends and put together a band called "Pacific Crossing". He says "It was a fun band to play in; we had a full rhythm section and horns. Because the guys all read charts, we could play a wide variety of music. One of our coolest gigs at the Silverado Country Club in Napa's wine country, playing for champagne maker Hans Kornell's birthday party. All the famous Napa wine makers were there, so it was a pretty high-brow event and we all wore tuxedos on the gig. So for the first two hours, we'd be playing these full-blown big band charts of standards like 'Pennsylvania 6-5000', 'Stardust', 'Mood Indigo' and stuff like that. Then for the last two hours, we'd be playing Top 40 tunes like 'Celebration', 'Ladies Night', 'Start Me Up' and all those 70s and early 80s hits.
"Pacific Crossing" changed members, changed the name of the band, and went to work on the casino circuit in the 80's traveling between Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Las Vegas. "The PC Band" became a fixture at the Palace Station Casino in Las Vegas." Cecil remembers his years there. "It was a wild time. Live music was everywhere. Our shift at the Palace Station was from midnight to 5 AM. And the lounge would be packed all night. I got to share the stage with Jon Smith, a monster sax player who had just come off the road with Toto. He had played with Edgar Winter and Boz Scaggs before that. He was an amazing, strong player; what a sound!"
"I also got to meet a lot of musicians working in the other casinos. There another sax player who had a gig with some friends of mine in a band at the Maxim Hotel. Back then, he sounded great. Today, he's still a great player and quite popular on the smooth jazz scene." That sax player is Paul Taylor.
Session Cats and Jazz Gigs
Coming off the road, Cecil got work in several recording studios in Northern California, playing on sessions, writing jingles and film scores, and doing some audio engineering. "I worked for my friends who owned a recording studio. After work, we played in a jazz group called "Matches". It was a large band and we did some pretty challenging stuff at the time; tunes by Fattburger, The Yellowjackets, Janis Siegel, Seawind, Patti Austin, Michael Brecker. Each week, we'd put in at least two days on rehearsal and did gigs on the weekends. So we learned a lot of music and the band sounded really tight. One year, we were the opener for Richard Elliot, just as he was getting popular. That was a fun gig."
Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Player Piano
Cecil has recorded music for PianoDisc, a popular player system that can be installed on any piano. The PianoDisc system records what a pianist plays, and then faithfully plays that performance back on any piano equipped with a PianoDisc system. The list of artists who have also recorded for PianoDisc includes smooth jazz stars Tom Grant, Freddie Ravel, David Benoit and fellow Mason & Hamlin artist Brian Culbertson.
I Love A Piano
As the national sales manager for Mason & Hamlin Piano Company since 1998, Cecil says "It's amazing to work a day gig where I'm always around the world's best pianos, to be able to see them in the factory as they are being built, evaluate them as they are finished, see them in stores across the country and in other countries, and talk to people who own and love their Mason & Hamlin pianos. And I get to perform on them with other artists and record my own music with them." Cecil is a Mason & Hamlin artist; at home, his piano is a Mason & Hamlin Model BB 7' grand. In 2014, Cecil also became an endorsing artist for Earthworks Audio, a US manufacturer of high-end recording microphones.
I'll Drink To That
Along with music, Cecil has an ongoing passion for fine wine. After several years of study in wine theory and tasting, Cecil earned the certification of Level 1 Sommelier with the famous Court of Master Sommeliers in July 2016 at Culinary Institute of America Greystone in St. Helena, CA. He is currently studying for the Level 2 Certified Sommelier exam. Cecil hosted a wine and food pairing dinner in November for Inner City Productions in Stockton, CA and will be doing more pairing events in 2017.