Song of the Day: Teo Macero “Out Of Loneliness”
Best known as Miles Davis‘ long-serving producer and tape editor at Columbia Records, Teo Macero was a formidable composer and arranger in his own right as well. His talents were made abundantly clear on his 1980 LP Teo. While Macero had released a number of LPs under his own name over the years, on Teo, he was given the budget to hire a string section and the results are impressive on his gorgeous composition, “Out Of Loneliness”. Featuring a lead line by the great alto player, Lee Konitz, Macero gently envelopes proceedings with an almost Morricone-esque neo-romantic string arrangement and some discreetly punchy percussion. The track ends up sounding like a great lost theme to a ’70s Italian crime film or melodrama.
Teo Macero was born in Glens Falls, NY in 1925. He served in the Navy during World War II and, following the war, enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York City where he earned both his BA and a Master’s Degree. He swiftly fell in with the New York Jazz scene, taking particular interest int he thornier and more avant-garde elements of what was going on around the City. He formed a friendship with bassist/ composer Charles Mingus and co-founded the Jazz Composer’s Workshop alongside Mingus which helped to incubate emerging talent. Macero gigged with Mingus as an alto sax player and worked on his own compositions. He helped pioneer third-stream music (a fusion of classical and jazz), scored a number of experimental films and released the odd record here and there.
In 1957, he was picked up by Columbia as a producer where he worked on hundreds of albums by many of the greats of jazz, including (the aforementioned) Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, and of course, Miles Davis among others. Fans of Miles with remember the bit of tape left at the end of the Miles Smiles LP in which you can hear Miles, in his trademark rasp, saying “Teo! Teo! Play That!”
Macero continued to work for Columbia as a producer and released his own music for decades. He died in 2008 at the age of 82, leaving behind a long and rich career in jazz. Macero had a hand in so many classic jazz LPs he approaches famed Blue Note and Verve recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder for enabling so much great jazz to be recorded. In this way, Teo Macero is one of the most important behind-the-scenes figures in jazz music. He deserves to also be known for his own, often wonderful, compositions.