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Born in London, Cecil was a founding member of the UK's leading jazz quintet of the late 1950s, The Jazz Couriers, before going on to join a number of British jazz combos led by Dick Morrissey, Tony Crombie and Ronnie Scott in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He later joined Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner to form the original line-up of Blues Incorporated.
He later joined Robert Margouleff to form the duo TONTO's Expanding Head Band, a project based on a unique combination of synthesizers which led to them collaborating on and co-producing several of Stevie Wonder's Grammy-winning albums of the early 1970s.
TONTO's Expanding Head Band
With Robert Margouleff, he formed the duo TONTO's Expanding Head Band, a synthesizer-based project. The duo were closely associated with Stevie Wonder's multiple Grammy Award winning Talking Book (1972), sharing the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical award as well as collaborating on and co-producing classic Wonder albums such as Music of My Mind, Innervisions and Fulfillingness' First Finale.
Their unique sound made them highly sought-after and they went on to collaborate with, amongst others, Quincy Jones, Bobby Womack, The Isley Brothers, Billy Preston, Gil Scott-Heron, Weather Report, Stephen Stills, The Doobie Brothers, Dave Mason, Little Feat, Joan Baez and Steve Hillage.
- As leader/co-leader
- 1981 Radiance
With TONTO's Expanding Headband
- 1971: Zero Time
- 1972: It's About Time
- 1996: TONTO Rides Again (compilation of above)
- As sideman
- 1961: It's Morrissey, Man! – Dick Morrissey Quartet
- 1961: The Tony Crombie Orchestra
- 1961: Let's Take Five – Emcee Five
- 1962: Bebop from the East Coast – Emcee Five
- 1971: Where Would I Be? – Jim Hall Trio
- 1973: 3+3 – The Isley Brothers
- 1974: Live It Up – The Isley Brothers
- 1975: The Heat Is On – The Isley Brothers
- 1976: Harvest for the World – The Isley Brothers
- 1977: Motivation Radio – Steve Hillage
- 1978: Secrets – Gil Scott-Heron (with Brian Jackson)
- 1980: Real Eyes – Gil Scott-Heron
- 1981: Reflections – Gil Scott-Heron
- 1982: Moving Target – Gil Scott-Heron
- 1983: Shut 'Um Down; Angel Dust (singles) – Gil Scott-Heron
- 1994: Spirits – Gil Scott-Heron
- 1996: A Jazzy Christmas – Bill Augustine
- 2009: A Jazzy Christmas 2 – Bill Augustine
- 2011: We're New Here – Gil Scott-Heron (with Jamie xx)
As producer, programmer, and/or engineer:
With Stevie Wonder
- 1972: Music of My Mind
- 1972: Talking Book
- 1973: Innervisions
- 1974: Fulfillingness' First Finale
- 1991: Jungle Fever
- Dave Mason – It's Like You Never Left (1973)
- Mandrill – Beast From The East (1975)
- Billy Preston – It's My Pleasure (1975)
- Billy Preston – Billy Preston (1976)
- Blood Donor – Rubber Revolution (1979 – from the album Blood Donor)
- Savoy Brown – Kings of Boogie (1989 – recording engineer)
- Mark Josephson – Dreamstate (1990)
- Pete Bardens – Watercolours (2002)
- The Jazz Couriers at David Taylor's British jazz web site Archived 8 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
- Ronnie Scott at David Taylor's British jazz web site Archived 26 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Malcolm Cecil – Discogs". discogs. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
- Malcolm Cecil NAMM Oral History Interview (2016)