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Longtime Miles Davis producerCopyright © 2008
Best known for his work in the studio with Miles Davis from 1957 to 1982, Attilio Joseph (Teo) Macero was also an accomplished composer, arranger and tenor saxophonist who collaborated with artists ranging from Charles Mingus to Vernon Reid. He died at 82, following a long illness.
Macero served in the Navy during World War II, and taught in his hometown of Glens Falls, New York, before moving to New York City in 1948 to study at the Julliard School of Music with composer Henry Brant. While at Julliard he worked in the school's sound engineering department, where he collaborated with Edgard Varese.
In the early '50s, he returned to teaching and formed a dance band. In 1953, he was a founding member of Mingus' Jazz Composers Workshop. In addition to Mingus, he also worked during this period with Teddy Charles and the Sandole Brothers, and established himself as a leading proponent of jazz-influenced contemporary composition. In 1958, the New York Philharmonic performed his composition "Fusion."
Macero joined Columbia Records as a music editor in 1957, and became a staff producer with the label two years later. His first contact with Davis came in 1956, when the trumpeter recorded Blue Moods for Mingus' Debut label. In September 1956, Davis also recorded a version of "Sweet Sue" arranged by Macero, which would be released by Columbia.
His first significant work with Davis was as supervisor on the recording of the trumpeter's landmark Kind Of Blue in 1959. As Davis biographer John Szwed wrote of him in his book So What: The Life Of Miles Davis, "(Macero) was perhaps the only producer in the country who could make it possible for Miles to take his music where he was going."
Although Davis and Macero had a falling out in the early-'60s, they reunited in 1966, and Macero played a key role in editing partial or rambling studio recordings into polished works that were released as the seminal recordings In A Silent Way, Jack Johnson and Bitches Brew.
In addition to Davis, Macero's client list at Columbia included Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, Ramsey Lewis, J. J. Johnson, Johnny Mathis, Mahalia Jackson and Simon & Garfunkle. He left Columbia in 1975 to form his own production company, under which his work included additional recordings for Davis, television scores and ballet. He also produced recordings by Robert Palmer, The Lounge Lizards, DJ Logic and guitarist Vernon Reid.
An outspoken critic of the reissue program at Columbia Legacy and the latter-day music industry in general, Macero became a mentor to a number of musicians and musicologists who were influenced by his collaborations with Davis.
Macero is survived by his wife Jeanne, a step-daughter, Suzie Lightbourn, and a sister, Lydia Edwards.