Tommy LiPuma (1936-2017)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Montreux Jazz Academy 2017 +

The third Montreux Academy started last Friday in Lausanne, this year HEMU, the jazz school there, stepping in as the host of the week-long event. 10 young musicians participated this year – the 3 finalists from the Montreux piano, guitar and vocal competitions and one musician picked by the HEMU to represent them in the mix.

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Guitar: from the UK Rob Luft and from Finland, but living in New York, Olli Hirvonen

Piano: Estaban Castro, from New York, is with 14 years the youngest Academy invitee so far; Guy MIntus, Israel-born but living as well in NYC now and Casimir Liberski from Belgium.

Vocals: Arta Jekabsone, Latvian who studied in New York; Cristina Tanase, Rumanian who studied law first before focusing on her singing career; Fabio Giacalone a global citizen being an Italian born in Brazil, who studies as well in NYC; German Erik Leuthäuser, the vocalise expert and Belgian Imelda Gabs, who was chosen by her university to participate in the Academy.

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The event started with a lecture on film and TV music by John Altman – very interesting and captivating. After that it was all about setting up the jam session for after dinner and that where the musicians showcased their abilities and talent. Guy Mintus was selected to run the show and he did a great job to keep the music flowing, adding some really good moments on piano to the overall great mix. From all the talent displayed, in an environment that is not musically what they usually do on their own, Guy, Rob and the vocalists stood out, especially Imelda and Erik, who closed the session with a beautiful Body & Soul, just with Rob on guitar and a little help from Guy at the end.

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The following day I had with my colleagues to lecture these 10 young artists about the music business – in 4 hours we tried to cover all aspects of our industry, including rights issues, working with promoters, agents and clubs well as what to expect from labels. These young musicians were extremely well prepared and had great questions and I simply hope we could give them something on top for their future careers. It has been, as always, a pleasure and honour for me to be there.

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Over the coming days these young artists will have more lectures and do more session, as well as working with some great mentors on their musical development – they will be mentored by Trilok Gurtu, Yaron Herman, Elina Duni, Marcus Miller, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Ziv Ravitz.

 

This year, as young as it is, already took from us a few people we will surely miss in the music world: Al Jarreau was not only one of the most amazing singers of our generation, but as well  one of the warmest human beings I ever encountered – he could lit up a room with his smile, brought good feelings to people and always had a good word for the ones around him. I worked with him on the GRP/Verve recordings he did around 2000 and met him several times then while either doing promo in Europe or when on tour. Unforgettable!

Larry Coryell and his band Eleventh House were an important part in my jazz education … a true master of his instrument and a visionary player.

I heard the drummer of Eleventh House, Alphone Mouzon, on the amazing live recording with Albert Mangelsdorff and Jaco Pastorius and from then on many times with various jazz greats in concert.

Violinist  Svend Asmussen I knew of, because my father liked him and I had a chance to see him in Denmark once as a special guest with Herbie Hancock. Being born in 1916, he was an early and important part of the 100 year jazz history.

Michael Naura was not only one of Germany’s leading pianists, but as well an educator, running a jazz series on radio for many years. His brilliance and wit and competent programs will be missed. May they all Rest In Peace.