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 2017, Cecil and his group shared the stage with Marcus Anderson for Jazz On The Waterfront. In June, Cecil co-hosted the Welcome Dinner for Napa Valley Jazz Getaway 2017 with Brian Culbertson and an All-Star band featuring Adam Hawley, Paul Jackson Jr., Marqueal Jordan, Lindsay Webster, Keith Slattery, Mike Harrington & Chris Miskel. In July, Cecil performed with Adam Hawley & Darryl Williams for Jazz On The Waterfront. In September, Cecil returned to Sax On The River as a headliner and music director for "Concert For The Cure" featuring Adam Hawley, Phil Denny & Marcus Anderson. In December, Cecil joined Jessy J onstage at Blue Note Napa.
Cecil's performances for 2018 as a headliner included shows at Blue Note Napa in May, and the Welcome Dinner for Napa Valley Jazz Getaway in June with Brian Culbertson and his band, Adam Hawley & Marqueal Jordan. He also performed with Tom Braxton at Blue Note Napa, Josh Vietti & Darryl Williams at CIA Copia in Napa, and Greg Chambers for the Jazz at 2300 series in Sacramento.
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
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. Cecil is also an endorsing artist for Earthworks Audio, a US manufacturer of high-end recording microphones and Dexibell, an Italian manufacturer of new high-performance keyboards.
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.