Shug is the debut single from Cecil Alexander’s upcoming debut album from Heartcore Records slated to be released on September 23rd 2022.
This trio line up with Will Gorman on organ and Steven Crammer on drums continues the tradition of guitar-organ-drum trios of the past. Shug is described as “an angular, aggressive song inspired by the growing pains and arguments a teenage Alexander would have with his dad, propelled by Alexander’s fiery modal melodies, Crammer’s incessant swing and Gorman’s dissonant harmonies.”
For me, this track is such a perfect introduction to the upcoming album aptly title “Introducing Cecil Alexander”.
Although this is Cecil’s debut as a bandleader, he has been prolific for like forever.
Personally I’ve been a fan of his playing on his social media channels (Instagram is my go to). I’ve also been reviewing his educational releases including his recent book 50 ii-V-I Licks by Cecil Alexander, his excellent Picking Masterclass and reviews on his musical exercises (Pentatonic Licks (Static Harmony) & Pentatonic Licks (II-V-I) by Cecil Alexander and Assorted Licks & Minor II-V Lines by Cecil Alexander.
Cecil is definitely someone who has been making waves for some time even before this single.
Talking about the single, at my very first listen it reminded me of the energy and drive on Uptown Down by Pat Martino (a track from Pat’s 1998 album).
The lines and chordal hits really show you that the trio means business. After the main melody, we get the first improvised solo with Cecil blasting with a strong mix of great lines that mix bop, the intensity of Pat Martino & George Benson both and some blues as well.
Will Gorman continues with his organ solo which is tasty and gives us a chance to hear Cecil’s nice comping as well.
Then we go back into the melody which is a much shorter version compared to the top part.
The duration is just nice & they are on fire.
I gotta admit that I listened to the song on repeat at least four time when I first pulled it up on Spotify. Now after listening to it again for this review, I’m just excited to hear how the full album will sound like when it drops in September.
Kudos to maestro Kurt Rosenwinkel who asked Cecil Alexander to be on the Heartcore Records label. What a great track by an inspiring artist… and yes, what a debut!
Cecil Alexander – Electric Guitar
Will Gorman – Hammond B3
Steven Crammer – Drums
Video by Max Lerner
Shug written & arranged by Cecil Alexander
Produced by Arreanna Alexander
Recorded at Sound on Sound Studios, Montclair, NJ, 2022
Recording engineer Chris Gold
Recording assistant Sam Enright
Mixed in Berlin 2022 Mixing engineer Charis Karantzas
Mastered by Guy Sternberg, Berlin 2022
Artwork photo/picture by Eunice Beck
Drawings by Clara Alejandra Öses and Vojta Drnek
Graphic design by Vojta Drnek and Michaela Bóková
Production coordinator Michaela Bóková
About Cecil Alexander
Cecil Alexander is a jazz guitarist and composer born in Muskegon, MI. Inspired by his parents’ extensive music collection, Cecil absorbed the sounds of Grover Washington, George Benson, Stevie Wonder, and Jimi Hendrix. These artists eventually led him to pick up the guitar at age 8 and seek instruction and guidance from local musicians. Cecil eventually attended Berklee College of Music from 2012 to 2016, graduating with a B.M. in Jazz Composition, and later completed his Master’s degree in Jazz Performance at William Paterson University. Cecil was the 1st place winner of the 2017 Wilson Center Jazz Guitar Competition and the 2018 Lee Ritenour Six String Theory Competition. As of recently, Cecil was one of 3 finalists in the 2019 Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Guitar Competition. Cecil has recorded/performed with Bill Charlap, Antonio Hart, Lee Pearson, Luis Perdomo, Nathan East, and Steve LaSpina. As of Fall 2021, Cecil started a teaching position at Berklee College of Music as Assistant Professor of Guitar.