[JPL] Teo Macero, 82, Record Producer, Dies

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Fri Feb 22 07:45:43 EST 2008


February 22, 2008
Teo Macero, 82, Record Producer, Dies

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 ³Bitches Brew,² ³In a Silent Way²
and ³Get Up With It,² 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
³Bitches Brew,² 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.

Davis¹s 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 Davis¹s 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 ³Shhh/Peaceful² on ³In a Silent Way² 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 Davis¹s ³Live
at Fillmore East,² from 1970, contains a snippet pasted in from a different

Mr. Macero strongly believed that the finished versions of Davis¹s 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 Columbia¹s
extensive reissuing of Davis¹s work for the label, in lavish boxed sets from
the mid-¹90s 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 Mingus¹s 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 ³Time Out.² He also produced Broadway cast albums like ³A
Chorus Line² 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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