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Chapter 3 - So, what do you want from me?

The next morning, I arrived at 8:00 a.m. Only the cleaning lady was there, and I waited. At 9:00 a.m., the receptionist arrived. "Can I help you?" she asked, putting her purse down on the table. "Hey, it's you again. I told you, you need an appointment."

"I have an appointment," I declared proudly, tapping on the tape I brought with me.

"What do you mean you have an appointment? I handle the appointments," the receptionist retorted.

"I spoke to Mr. Macero and he said to come back today," I explained.

"You spoke to...what time did he tell you to come?" she queried.

"He said to come today," I replied.

She’d had enough of this. She didn’t want to drag this any further. I had confused her as it was and I am sure she thought I must have been a bit crazy. I didn’t care about that. My goal was very clear and the receptionist didn’t really matter to me.

“Please have a seat. I must warn you, though, I have no idea when he’ll be here,” she said.

I sat down and picked up some jazz magazines. I glanced through them at first and then started to read them in detail. I was completely absorbed in the magazines and didn't want to draw any attention to myself. I did not take coffee breaks, I didn’t even go to the bathroom.

At around 1:00pm, Teo burst out of the elevator like a bullet, carrying a case and looking wild. He rattled orders to the receptionist as he rushed by her. He didn’t even notice me.

“Uhhhhmm, there is a gentleman here to see you,” she managed to tell him as he walked into the corridor.

He turned back, looked at me and said, “You again?”

“You asked me to come back today,” I said.

“Shit” he uttered. “Wait.”

I waited till about 1:45. The receptionist couldn't help but smile each time she looked in my direction. I'm sure the whole scene was quite amusing to her. She offered me a drink, which made me feel a bit more at ease.

Then the Buzzer rang. “You can go in now,” she said, “Just turn left…”

“Second door opposite side,” I continued her sentence.

I walked into the office, which was small and cramped. To the left of the door was an upright piano, cluttered with books, music scores, pencils, erasers, and other musical items that overflowed onto the keyboard and covered the entire top. His desk was covered with albums, music, glasses, pens, you name it. Although the room was a bit dark and messy, it was still comfortable and not unpleasantly so. It was a comfortable, though very busy, environment. “Sit down and make it snappy, I am busy. Who are you and what the hell do you want from me?”

It was clear to me that beating around the bush, telling him how much I admired his work, talking about Israel or Boston or anything social, would get me out the door very expeditiously. So I cut to the chase.

“I arranged and produced two pieces in Boston, while I was studying at Berklee. I want to play them for you because I value your opinion and want to know what you think I can do with them.”

Teo grabbed the tape and without glancing at me, he quickly and skillfully placed it on his reel-to-reel machine, hit “play” and settled back down to listen.

At first, he shuffled some music sheets, causing me to doubt his intent to listen closely. I felt nervous, aware that the music was good, but unsure of the standard by which Teo, who had produced some of the greatest jazz artists of the 20th century, would judge my work. The first tune started as a Latin sort of ballad. Very cool, just bass, fender Rhodes and brushes on cymbals. Then it exploded into a very fast-paced piece reminiscent of Chick Corea's style. Teo put down the papers, leaned back, and listened intently. After some truly astounding solos the piece calmed down and went out the way it started, soft smooth and calm. The song was sung by Chris Trulio, whom I had met at Berklee College of Music. She was a talented young woman and an old flame, causing me to often wonder what had become of her. Chris may appear in one of my future stories, as I had used her in a demo I wrote with Sammy Cahn, but that's a story for another time.

Teo stopped the tape, said nothing to me, rewound it and started over again. Then he did the same thing again. He repeated this process five times, listening to the same piece over and over again. I didn’t make any motion or made any wave or say anything at all. I wanted him to listen to the second tune, but I didn't want to say anything. I essentially disappeared from his radar.

Then, after five repetitions he looked straight at me and asked, “So what do you want from me?”

I was dumbfounded. I wasn’t prepared for such a question and I had no specific answer.

“I don’t know Mr. Macero…”

“Call me, Teo,” he said.

“I don’t know, Teo, I mean, do you like the music?”

“Would you be still sitting here if I didn’t? This is good work, who the hell was the sax player?”

So, we chatted a bit and I caught him smile for the first time. Then he said, “OK, then, since you don’t know, how would you like me to manage you?”

I will never ever forget that moment. I replayed that phrase in my head over and over again for weeks.

“OK, then. Do you want me to manage you?”

“OK, then. Do you want me to manage you?”

“OK, then. Do you want me to manage you?”

There have been several instances in my life where someone of great significance asked me a question like that. As mentioned in another chapter about Berry Gordy, this was one such example. I have been given so many opportunities in my life, and to a certain extent, I've learned to anticipate the unexpected. A proposal like this, which would seem improbable by any normal standards, came as a surprise to me after just four days in New York City. However, deep down, I wasn't truly shocked. The enormity of these situations always takes me aback. I had only spent a week in New York, and one of the greatest jazz producers of all time was offering me a management deal.

My answer was instant. “Sure”.

To be continued…

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