by Joe Schwab
The death of legendary producer Teo Macero on the 19th passed with little notice except for a nice obit in Wednesday’s New York Times.
Teo’s influence on music, particularly jazz in the second half of the 20th century was beyond reproach. His production work at Columbia records is what will be most remembered. His resume at Columbia looks like an Amazon list of the jazz records you must own in your lifetime. These include Dave Brubeck’s Time Out, Charles Mingus’ Mingus Ah Um, Miles Davis and Gil Evans’ Sketches of Spain and Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew. He was one of the few Jazz producers who started as a musician. His solo recordings for Savoy and Columbia as well as his work in Charles Mingus’ band helped pave the way for the “Third Stream” movement of the 50’s which blended into the avant garde revolution of the 60’s.
Teo’s finest hour was his work with Miles Davis on classics like Bitches Brew, A Tribute to Jack Johnson, In a Silent Way, Get Up With It and On The Corner. By this time Miles would have various musicians brought into the studio to jam on vamps in a hypnotic combination of Arnold Schoenberg’s atonality and Sly & the Family Stones' hard driving funk. It was Teo that crafted and sculpted these sessions into masterpieces that have been influencing Jazz musicians to this day.
All these sessions have been well documented in the Columbia Legacy box sets. Though Teo felt that unreleased recordings were not meant to be heard (he detested these box sets), we were able to discover the importance of Teo’s influence and why these recording were a collaboration of importance much like the pairing of Miles Davis and Gil Evans. Below is an excerpt from an upcoming documentary on the life of Macero as he discusses working on the Bitches Brew sessions:
You can buy Teo here.