The majority of panelists and performers at Moogfest have been focused on the future of sound and technology. But we can’t know the future of electronic music without knowing its history. Malcolm Cecil is part of that history. Cecil is a jazz musician, producer, audio engineer and creator of TONTO, the world’s first multi-timbral, polyphonic analog audio synthesizer.
During the Synthesized Sound and Voices panel at the Masonic Temple on Friday afternoon, Cecil told stories of playing jazz with club owner Ronnie Scott, recalled defining moments for his electronic music duo, Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, and shared his experience recording with Stevie Wonder in New York City.
In one of his many stories, Cecil recounted how on one, hot, fortuitous Memorial Day weekend, he was in his apartment in midtown “in his birthday suit” when his bandmate Robert Margouleff rang his doorbell. Margeouleff had brought along Stevie Wonder, and Cecil introduced Stevie to the wonders of the synth that same afternoon. A collaboration was born, and TONTO was featured on four of Stevie’s classic 70s records.
In the video below, Cecil (and a bunch of other great musicians) talk about the collaboration between Stevie Wonder and TONTO:
Side note: Those interested in learning more about the evolution of the modular synthesizer may want to head over to the Moog Film Festival at the Fine Arts Theatre on Saturday afternoon. A screening of I Dream of Wires starts at 12:30 p.m.