Tommy LiPuma was not just one of the best producers of our time; he was a man living music. Ever fibre in his body was swinging – when talking to him it always ended up being about music, as this was what made him tick.
I first met Tommy when Universal bought PolyGram in 1998 and we started merging the two companies and in our case the jazz activities around the world. For me he became kind of a role model, together with Bruce Lundvall – the ultimate music men – one the producer with a passion and love for the music and artists and the other the executive with equal passion and understanding of the creative being. They were the guys to learn from and to look up to.
When Tommy was running the Verve Music Group and we had meetings (see above – International Marketing Meeting Verve, I think 2006, Tommy 4th from left) it was always a pleasure to hear him talking about music and artists … he let the business talk be done by someone else, his mind was in making great records and he did over all these years. And all the stories he could tell! I never got tired of listening to him and gladly stayed in touch after we both left Universal – before that he did produce for PRA/Emarcy the two studio albums Randy Crawford did with Joe Sample, which I released outside the US.
I was invited to go to Montreux for his 75th birthday celebration – a star studded affair which only he could manage to get on one stage – the performance schedule for that night (see photo below) tells it all. We had a great time there with music and good food and wine, another of his passions.
A few years ago he called me once in the middle of the night, guess it was past 1 am, just to tell me to check out this new kid he heard of – which was no-one else than Jacob Collier! Still going strong and hearing new acts … and the last time we spoke, less than a year ago, he advised me to get a DAC player to improve the sound of compressed digital files ….Music and sound were always on his mind and now I can’t wait to hear his last production, the new Diana Krall album.
Tommy will be with me forever – as he will be with many people for the rest of their lives. He and the music he created with his artists touched many people and will continue to do so for a very long time. May he Rest In Peace.