Teo Macero  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Teo Macero (October 30 1925February 19 2008), born Attilio Joseph Macero, was an American jazz saxophonist, composer, and record producer. He was a producer at Columbia Records for twenty years, and most notably produced the Miles Davis album, Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew.

With Miles Davis

While Macero produced many artists' albums, he had an especially long and prolific relationship with Miles Davis. He produced most of Davis' Columbia catalog, including the classics Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain, and Someday My Prince Will Come. And Davis' later forays into electric fusion, such as In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, and A Tribute to Jack Johnson, were highlighted by Macero's innovative mixing and editing techniques.

Nick Southall described the impact of Macero's work on In a Silent Way in a 2003 Stylus Magazine article:

"Behind the scenes, Miles and Teo took the tapes of the In A Silent Way sessions and transformed some beautiful, folk-tinged, melody-driven sets into two exquisite, beguiling and otherworldly pieces of music. Using techniques that pre-dated the proliferation of tape loops, cut-ups, edits and sequencing in rock, pop, hip hop and dance music, Miles and Teo took apart the original recording and reassembled them outside of any traditional or accepted jazz structure or melodic framework. This idea of taking jazz away from its birth, genesis and flowering as a live art and into the studio would soon become standard practice, but in 1969 it was groundbreaking."

Some listeners and critics have complained that Macero overproduced Davis' recordings, and cut too much. But after hearing the unedited tapes from the In A Silent Way sessions, jazz critic John Ballon wrote that the original editing and production "attests to the producing genius of Teo Macero." Ballon continues:

"It took a force like Teo to splice together a cohesive album out of so many inspired pieces. Not only did Teo have the balls to stand up to Miles on creative decisions, he had the right. And Miles knew it. And while his ego rebelled against any producer messing with his music, Miles knew that incredibly great records were borne out of the conflict and compromise of his relationship with Teo."

On Davis' 1970 release, Bitches Brew, Macero continued to expand his innovative practices, and "Bitches Brew not only became a controversial classic of musical innovation, it also became renowned for its pioneering use of studio technology." Some of the controversy at the time also stemmed from the use of the word bitches in the title. Macero recalls that when Davis told him that he wanted to call it Bitches Brew, "I thought he was kidding." The album became the best-selling jazz album of its time, selling 500,000 copies by 1976, when most successful jazz albums sold less than 30,000 copies.

Macero's innovative techniques were inspired partially by his association with avant-garde composer Edgard Varèse, and they continue to impact the way musicians, producers, and remixers work in the studio today. Brian Eno, a producer who has worked extensively with U2 and Talking Heads, among others, talked about Macero's influence on him in a 1996 interview with jazzthetik magazine. Eno describes being "fascinated" by Macero's editing techniques and the "spatial" quality he added to the music. "He did something that was extremely modern."

In 1975, Macero left Columbia and formed his own production company. However, he continued to work with Davis until 1983, and continued to produce records for Columbia until his death.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Teo Macero" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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