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8/15/10

Teo Macero - 1970 interview



In preparation for a Saturday Review cover story on Miles Davis, I conducted numerous interviews, including this one with the late Teo Macero, who for many years was Miles' producer at Columbia Records. At the time of this phone interview (the week of his 45th birthday, October, 1970), Teo was working with Miles on the album "Live - Evil," and I was at that time spending my nights working on Bessie Smith reissues in the same building, Columbia studios on East 52nd Street. Teo's office at Blackrock, the CBS building on Sixth Avenue, adjoined John Hammond's, so we also saw much of each other there. He was an interesting man, accomplished, intelligent, humorous, and, when it came to record producing: awesome. If you want to know more about Teo's achievements and life, you will find it here, at Wikipedia.

There was a time when producing a Miles Davis session was a fairly orthodox task. There were sessions, great music was recorded, and little—if anything—needed to be done with it in terms of editing. So, it was basically a matter of having a good ear and being on the same wavelength as Miles was. By the Seventies, trends and technology had changed the way we approached album making, and when I say that I was awed by Teo's work it is because he and Miles had their own way of doing it. I used to see Teo with stacks of tape reels where most of us would rarely leave a session with more than four or five. I was also intrigued by the fact that there were no titles scribbled on the tape boxes, just numbers and what appeared to be code words. You will hear Teo talk about that in this interview. The amazing thing was that these many tapes, with their mysteriously identified bits and pieces eventually became memorable albums that made perfect sense and took the music way out of the box.

The tape runs about 36 minutes and abruptly cuts off when the cassette reaches the end. By that time,the interview had become more of a conversation and it, too, was essentially over, so you are not missing anything.






If you wish to read the Saturday Review cover story on Miles that resulted from this and other interviews, here is a link to My Lunch with Miles.

As always, I appreciate comments—favorable or not, so please use that option (below). I also thank John Francis on the other Coast, who transferred the cassette to disc and thus made this blog entry possible.

2 comments:

  1. To me the dynamic balance between the interviewer and Teo is too great. Sometimes I just couldn't hear the questions. Towards the end the interviewer is actually doing most of the speaking with Teo responding.

    If you wanted I would be prepared to fix up those sound issues, wouldn't take very long.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, I would appreciate that. Of course, the interview was never meant to be heard by anyone else, so it didn't matter how faint my voice was, as long as Teo heard it.

    ReplyDelete