Alum

Cecil Alexander

Position
Assistant Professor
Affiliated Departments
Expertise
improvisation
global jazz
guitar
Faculty Bio E-Mail

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Cecil Alexander is a guitarist, composer, and arranger from Muskegon, Michigan. He graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2016 with a B.M. in jazz composition. He is a recent graduate (2019) of the M.M. in jazz performance program at William Paterson University. In 2016, he cofounded the folk group Visen, which released its first EP, Shoulder Deep, in 2017. Alexander was the first-place winner of the 2017 Wilson Center Jazz Guitar Competition and the 2018 Lee Ritenour Six String Theory Competition. He was also one of three finalists in the 2019 Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Guitar Competition. Some of his greatest influences include Joe Henderson, Grant Green, George Benson, and John Coltrane. Alexander is currently recording music for his debut album as a leader.

Career Highlights
  • Performed/recorded with Nathan East, Lee Ritenour, Luis Perdomo, and Lee Pearson
  • Studied with Bill Charlap, Gene Bertoncini, Aaron Goldberg, David Gilmore, Thaddeus Hogarth, and Rich Perry
  • Published inĀ Premier Guitar
Awards
  • Winner of the 2017 Wilson Center Jazz Guitar Competition
  • Winner of the 2018 Lee Ritenour Six String Theory Competition (Jazz Category)
  • Finalist (third-place) in the 2019 Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Guitar Competition
Education
  • M.M., William Paterson University, jazz performance, 2019
  • B.A., Berklee College of Music, jazz composition, 2016
In Their Own Words

I want my students to have a thorough understanding of the tradition and lineage of the jazz idiom. The way they express themselves in this music should be forward thinking but also pay respect to the master musicians who paved the way. In lessons, an emphasis is put on fundamentals and musical building blocks, but ultimately I want to hear how my students can put these elements into context."

Through my background playing in a wide variety of contexts, I've learned to be flexible musically. When I'm meeting a student for the first time, I like to get an idea of what style(s) their musical background consists of. From there, I can get a better idea of how I can help them be themselves and be comfortable functioning in any genre."

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