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Teo Macero 1925-2008

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From The New York Times today:

TEO MACERO, 82, RECORD PRODUCER, DIES

By BEN RATLIFF

Published: February 22, 2008

Teo Macero, a record producer, composer and saxophonist most famous for his role in producing a series of albums by Miles Davis in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including editing that almost amounted to creating compositions after the recordings, died on Tuesday in Riverhead, N.Y. He was 82 and lived in Quogue, N.Y.

His death followed a long illness, his stepdaughter, Suzie Lightbourn, said.

Helping to build Miles Davis albums like “Bitches Brew,” “In a Silent Way” and “Get Up With It,” Mr. Macero (pronounced TEE-oh mah-SEH-roh) used techniques partly inspired by composers like Edgard Varèse, who had been using tape-editing and electronic effects to help shape the music. Such techniques were then new to jazz and have largely remained separate from it since. But the electric-jazz albums he helped Davis create — especially “Bitches Brew,” which remains one of the best-selling albums by a jazz artist — have deeper echoes in almost 40 years of experimental pop, like work by Can, Brian Eno and Radiohead.

Davis’s routine in the late 1960s was to record a lot of music in the studio with a band, much of it improvised and based on themes and even mere chords that he would introduce on the spot. Later Mr. Macero, with Davis’s help, would splice together vamps and bits and pieces of improvisation.

For example, Mr. Macero isolated a little melodic improvisation Davis played on the trumpet for “Shhh/Peaceful” on “In a Silent Way” and used it as the theme, placing it at the beginning and the end of the piece. Even live recordings he sometimes treated as drafts; the first track of Davis’s “Live at Fillmore East,” from 1970, contains a snippet pasted in from a different song.

Mr. Macero strongly believed that the finished versions of Davis’s LPs, with all their intricate splices and sequencing — done on tape with a razor blade, in the days before digital editing — were the work of art, the entire point of the exercise. He opposed the current practice of releasing boxed sets that include all the material recorded in the studio, including alternate and unreleased takes. Mr. Macero was not involved in Columbia’s extensive reissuing of Davis’s work for the label, in lavish boxed sets from the mid-’90s until last year.

Attilio Joseph Macero was born and raised in Glens Falls, N.Y. He served in the Navy, then moved to New York in 1948 to attend the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied with the composer Henry Brant. In 1953 he became involved with Charles Mingus in the cooperative organization called the Jazz Composers Workshop; he played in Mingus’s other groups and put out his own records on Debut Records, the label founded by Mingus and Max Roach.

While simultaneously working as a tenor saxophonist — with Mingus, Teddy Charles and the Sandole Brothers, among others — and composing modern classical music as well as working in the classical-to-jazz idiom then called Third Stream, he joined Columbia Records in 1957. He was first hired as a music editor; in 1959 he became a staff producer.

At Columbia he worked with artists like J. J. Johnson, Mahalia Jackson, Johnny Mathis, Thelonious Monk and Dave Brubeck, for whom he produced the famous album “Time Out.” He also produced Broadway cast albums like “A Chorus Line” and film soundtracks.

Mr. Macero left Columbia in 1975. He later worked with the singer Robert Palmer, the Lounge Lizards, Vernon Reid, D.J. Logic and others.

Besides Ms. Lightbourn, of Morristown, N.J., he is survived by his wife, Jeanne, of Quogue, N.Y., and his sister, Lydia Edwards of Sarasota, Fla., and Queensbury, N.Y.

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Thanks for posting this, Brownie. Didn't realise he had been so ill, very sad news of course.

His legacy is assured though thanks to the fantastic and highly creative production for Davis, Monk etc and not to forget his recordings of the 1950s. The work with Davis - especially from the early 70s - seems to get more and more recognition as the years go past.

Nice to see you posting again and hope all is well.

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Sad, sad news... R.I.P.

He leaves a rich legacy of recorded music. Thank you, Mr. Macero!

And thank you, brownie, for posting the Times obit.

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Welcome back brownie!

It's not on the LA Times obit page yet. I'll post what they have when it comes up.

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great to see you, brownie :D [stands for the big smile which suddenly appeared]

and r i p

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great to see you, brownie :D [stands for the big smile which suddenly appeared]

and r i p

same sudden smile here - hi!

sad news about Macero - interesting observation about the Miles boxes vs. the original albums... I guess the whole point is that these boxes are sort of historical/critical editions, and as such also include the originally edited music (though placing that at the end - as on the IASW and JJ boxes - might have been a bit of a weird move).

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Thrilled to see you back too, Guy, just wish the circumstances were different.

Teo was a tough customer, a fully-equipped musician/composer as well as a solid producer and innovative post-productionist. My respect for him has only grown the more more I realize just how badass a cat he really was.

Once again - purchasing of some items from the Teo Records catalog from CD baby would not be an unrewarding movve for many here. Trust me.

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fascinating guy, huge ego - I talked to him when I was working on my 1950s jazz book and he told me about guys like Gil Melle/Mingus/Bley really talking a lot about ways to move the music forward; that was truly an unsung modernist movement in jazz - he also mentioned about some concerts that he said involved Varese, but I never got very far in talkng to him because unless I repeated every 10 minutes or so how much I liked his work, he would get oddly hostile -

I hope someone, somewhere, did a decent and detailed interview with him because I finally gave up -

I wonder if Chris Albertson ever had any dealings with him -

Chris?

Edited by AllenLowe

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Funny, as much as I was around Teo, I never sensed an inflated ego. He was someone whose work I admired and whose presence I enjoyed. Here's an interesting YouTube interview with him:

Good to see you back, Brownie.

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Yep, sad news. RIP Teo.

And yes, glad to hear from you, Brownie. :)

Edited by porcy62

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Once again - purchasing of some items from the Teo Records catalog from CD baby would not be an unrewarding movve for many here. Trust me.

in case anyone else wonders...

previous thread

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22macero.pop.jpg

he also mentioned about some concerts that he said involved Varese,

Varese wrote Graphs and Time, a sketch for Macero and the Mingus band. It gets performed occasionally by the American Festival of Microtonal Music.

Bummer about Teo, he was no doubt an important strand of the musical fabric of the 20th century. I saw his band once at the old Knitting Factory.

Edited by 7/4

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I had a little party for Varese back in the 60s. He showed great interest in my record (then LP) collection, skipping past the classical shelves.

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RIP, and thanks for the great work with Miles.

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don't mean to cast aspersions, as I think he was a very brilliant musician; maybe just caught him on a bad day -

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RIP Teo

There's a documentary coming out about Mr. Macero, and you can view the trailer for it here.

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RIP Teo.

Thanks for all of the landmark recordings.

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Got an e-mail about this early today and pulled out THE BEST OF TEO MACERO, which Joe Milazzo hipped me to several years ago--intense, "early-avant-garde" jazz/music to be sure. Hope that gets noted along with all of the Miles collaborations.

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A great obscure album he is involved with is Jack Ackerman's soundtrack to the Cassavetes film "Faces." IIRC, I think Macero plays on the album and maybe did some arrangements.

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A great obscure album he is involved with is Jack Ackerman's soundtrack to the Cassavetes film "Faces." IIRC, I think Macero plays on the album and maybe did some arrangements.

BTW great movie, it might seems a bit dated today, only because you're used to that camera's work and editing style. Lot of believers and followers, but only ONE John Cassavetes.

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RIP Teo. What a great poducer. I don't think Miles' In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew could be heard any other way.

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Here's his LA Times obituary:

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-...1,1552343.story

Teo Macero, 82; jazz producer worked with Miles Davis, other big names

template_bastemplate_bas By Jocelyn Y. Stewart, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

February 23, 2008 Teo Macero, whose innovative work as a producer of jazz albums in the 1960s and '70s helped define the recorded sound of artists such as Miles Davis and redefine the meaning of studio production, died Tuesday at a hospital in Riverhead, N.Y. He was 82.

Macero, who lived in Quogue, N.Y., had been ill for some time, said his stepdaughter, Suzie Lightbourn of Morristown, N.J. The cause of death was not given.

The thousands of recordings produced by Macero include the original cast album of "A Chorus Line," Simon and Garfunkel's album "The Graduate" and numerous gold records.

Beginning with his work at Columbia Records in the mid-1950s, Macero helped make some of the most enduring jazz recordings of the era. He was musical editor for Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus.

Later he became a producer and exerted an even greater influence on the music.

For many years he produced Davis, including albums such as "Bitches Brew," "In a Silent Way" and "Sketches of Spain." Although Davis had the final say, Macero was given wide latitude -- and he used all the space given him to express his creativity.

"I mean Miles never came to the editing room," Macero said in an interview posted on Perfect Sound Forever, an online music magazine. "In 25 or 30 years he was there maybe four or five times. So I had carte blanche to maneuver, do things with his music that I couldn't do with other people's."

Macero spliced tape, used overdubbing and pitch manipulations and employed electronic effects. Columbia Records sometimes had to create the equipment Macero needed in production. The "instant playback" allowed a passage to be played back in defined intervals.

In those days, such techniques were not the common fare they are today.

"Even back then, we were always experimenting," Macero said in a 2007 edition of Remix magazine. "That was half the fun, to see what you could do with some of this stuff. It didn't matter if it was a monaural or a two-track tape machine -- if I could help make the music sound different or adventurous, I was right there."

Macero sometimes had to weave in "bits and pieces" of music that Davis had recorded on cassettes.

"Miles would say, 'Put this in that new album we're working on,' " Macero said in the Perfect Sound Forever interview. "I'd say, 'Look, where the hell is it going to go? I don't know.' He says, 'Oh, you know.' "

Their collaboration was legendary. But in later years, when the unedited recordings of some of Davis' works were released, some critics complained that Macero had been too heavy-handed. A writer for Slate magazine referred to Macero's work as "post-production meddling." Macero had strong views of some of the reissues.

"They're discovering the things that we threw out and they're putting them in," he said in the Boston Herald in 2001. "I wouldn't have anything to do with it. It's just a lot of blowing. What is that?"

Macero was born in Glens Fall, N.Y., on Oct. 30, 1925. His parents owned a restaurant, said his sister, Lydia Edwards. Early in his life, he took up the saxophone, and music became his passion.

After serving in the Navy in the mid-1940s, Macero earned a bachelor's degree in 1951 and a master's degree in 1953 from Juilliard School of Music. He received Guggenheim Fellowships twice in the 1950s and played saxophone with Mingus and many others.

The list of artists he worked with as producer includes Dave Brubeck, Mahalia Jackson and Leonard Bernstein. After more than 20 years at Columbia, Macero left and continued to work as a producer. He also composed for several ballet companies and was a composer and conductor with several symphony orchestras.

In more recent years Macero worked with Wallace Roney, Geri Allen and Robert Palmer and composed for television and film.

In addition to Lightbourn and Edwards, Macero is survived by his wife, Jeanne.

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