Guitarist Cecil Wilson’s unique guitar playing came not just from listening to classical music and jazz when he was young, but also from listening to pop musicians of the era, like Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton.
Decades after he was inspired to pick up a guitar, the Jamaica guitarist recorded two albums under the name of Simirillion, a mutated spelling of “Silmarillion,” a collection of narratives by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Born in Mount Vernon, Wilson studied classical guitar at Marymount College in Tarrytown. It was during this time in college that his guitar-playing style started to form. For starters, he did not use a pick to play.
Since college, Wilson said his playing continued to evolve and change into something unique. When combined with his enjoyment in multiple genres of music, such as classical, jazz, pop and spoken word, he came up with his own mixture of New Age sounds that would come to define Simirillion.
“I kind of developed my own style from that,” he said. “I guess the usage of using two-note chords as melody line. That’s really the basis of my playing, my style.”
In the early 2000s, Simirillion took off with two records, a self-titled debut and “Of Unicorns and Jasmine…A Lover’s Tale.” The latter was described by its label, Tate Music Group, as a New Age Opera without words.
Songs on “Of Unicorns and Jasmine,” such as “Like Dreamers Do” and “Waltz of Glass Tears” display how adaptable Wilson’s style is, as he moves from the feather-light touches of the former’s main melody to the fragile, poignant combination of acoustic guitar and wind instruments on the latter.
“The latest album was basically more controlled, in the sense that it was more formatted,” Wilson said. “I thought out what I wanted to do. The self-titled one was more improvisation/profound planning.”
This combination of careful arrangement and spontaneity is how Wilson puts together most of his songs, starting out in his home studio and building the track from there.
“I sit down and plan out an idea that I get and I format a structure from that,” he said. “I laid the foundation of it at home on my synthesizer. I went into a regular studio, had musicians come in and [play] the initial tracks.”
Due to the nature of his music, which contains lush instrumentation from many different sources, Wilson said he prefers the studio to putting a live concert together, mentioning that as well that there are not many New Age venues in the City for him to perform.
“I prefer recording in the studio, because I have control over every aspect of the production,” he said. “Playing live is a little difficult because of the fact that different instruments are used and we have to have an ensemble.”
For those interested in learning to play classical or New Age guitar, Wilson said that dedication is absolutely necessary.
“Perseverance and practice. A deeply committed attitude towards the music,” he said.