May 05 Written by 

I Get Strangely Lucky

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Teo Macero was a composer and musician, but is best known for producing Miles Davis' classic albums -- hands-on. By cutting (with a razor blade) and splicing tapes, Macero turned the recording studio into a creative instrument. He was invited to St. Louis in 1996 and I took his picture on black-and-white film, and not very good pix at that, just making a businesslike visual record of the luminaries at the first Miles Davis Conference.

I didn't capture the man's genius. He looks like your Italian granddad or grocer taking an afternoon off to play bocce ball.

Somehow a halftone of one of those photos, printed in an obscure newsletter, got scanned into the Internet. It has been online at the music site for years, with my name on it as a credit. Mr. Macero died on Feb. 20 and I got emails from as far away as Germany from jazz fans and obituary writers wanting permission to reprint the Macero photo. Like I care! I wish my name weren't on it! I retrieved 7 original b&w glossies of Macero out of an archive and scanned them at 300 dpi (better than the halftone dots) and put them online at, licensing them for public noncommercial use through Creative Commons. (I also use CC's free license system to copyright this blog. And you should use it for anything you put on the Internet.)

With a digital camera I would have made much better pictures, in color, without the flash, which doubled the difficulty of any photo assignment. But in 1996 those things were science fiction. (At left you see the Sony Cybershot, 1997 -- with its floppy-disk storage.) It's odd that this one obscure photo I made, justly forgotten, should interest anyone 12 years later. Let that be a lesson to us all: Published is forever.
Catherine Rankovic

Writer, with 30+ years' writing and publishing experience, 20+ years' teaching experience. Last book read: Mrs. Lincoln by Catherine Clinton.