Macero, Teo [Attilio Joseph] (Glens Falls, NY, 30 Oct 1925)


Tenor saxophonist, composer, and record producer


After leaving the navy he moved in 1948 to New York, where he entered the Juilliard School. In 1953 he graduated (Bachelor of Science and Master of Science) and became a founding member of Charles Mingus's Jazz Composers' Workshop. Playing tenor and baritone saxophones he recorded with Mingus (1953-5) and performed with him at the Newport Jazz Festival (1956). Around this time he also recorded three albums as a leader (1953, 1955, 1957) and worked with the Teddy Charles Tentette (1956). With Mingus, Charles, and Gunther Schuller, he became interested in fusing elements of classical music and jazz; the resulting compositional style came to be known as third stream. In the late 1950s Macero wrote several atonal classical works that showed the influence of jazz. He joined Columbia in 1957 as a music editor, and was soon the company's leading producer of jazz recordings. After producing Miles Davis's album Kind of Blue in 1959, he went on to work in this capacity on many outstanding sessions of the 1960s and 1970s. He was responsible for signing Mingus to Columbia, and also supervised recordings by Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, and others. He left Columbia in 1975 and became president of his own company, Teo Productions, but continued to serve as Davis's producer until 1983. In the late 1960s Davis began to rely heavily on tape editing in the studio as part of the production process; Macero's contribution thus became as important as that of a sideman. Macero is the composer of more than a thousand pieces, many of which are oriented towards jazz; among them are film and ballet scores and music for television. He has also written several arrangements of jazz standards, notably Blues for Amy and St. Louis Blues (both on the album Something New, Something Blue, 1959, Columbia CS8183). In the 1980s he resumed playing saxophone; his style on this instrument is reminiscent of Lester Young's. In 1983 he directed and produced an album of his own compositions for big band, Impressions of Charles Mingus.


 Mark Gardner


The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Macmillan Reference Ltd 1988