Timeline and Discography
BLUE THUMB (1969-1974)
WARNER BROS. (1974-1978)
A&M / HORIZON (1978-1979)
WARNER BROS. (1979-1990)
1965 Comin’ Through, The O’Jays
1966 Guantanamera, The Sandpipers
1966 More I See You/Call Me, Chris Montez
1966 Time After Time, Chris Montez
1967 Misty Roses, The Sandpipers
1967 Claudine, Claudine Longet
1967 Look of Love, Claudine Longet
1968 Softly, The Sandpipers
1968 Colours, Claudine Longet
1968 Love Is Blue, Claudine Longet
1968 Roger Nichols & the Small Circle of Friends, Roger Nichols
1969 Rock Salt and Nails, Steve Young
1968 Randy Newman, Randy Newman (Warner Bros.)
1970 A Bad Donato, João Donato
1970 Alone Together, Dave Mason
1970 High Contrast, Gabor Szabo
1970 Magical Connection, Gabor Szabo
1971 Where’s the Money?, Dan Hicks
1972 Darkness Darkness, Phil Upchurch
1972 Mark-Almond II, Mark-Almond Band
1972 Striking It Rich, Dan Hicks
1972 Headkeeper, Dave Mason
1973 America Wake Up, Paul Humphrey
1973 Last Train to Hicksville, Dan Hicks
1973 Lovin’ Feeling, Phil Upchurch
1973 What a Place to Land, Southwind
1973 National Lampoon Lemmings, National Lampoon
1974 Italian Graffiti, Nick DeCaro
1974 The Way We Were, Barbra Streisand (Columbia)
1975 We Be Sailin’, B.W. Stevenson
1976 Art of Tea, Michael Franks
1976 Breezin’, George Benson
1976 Glow, Al Jarreau
1976 Stuff, Stuff
1976 Urubu, Antonio Carlos Jobim
1977 In Flight, George Benson
1977 Look to the Rainbow, Al Jarreau
1977 Sleeping Gypsy, Michael Franks
1977 Weekend in L.A., George Benson
1977 You Must Believe in Spring, Bill Evans
1977 Amoroso, Joao Gilberto
1977 Gate of Dreams, Claus Ogerman
1978 Burchfield Nines, Michael Franks
1978 It Happened One Bite, Dan Hicks
1978 Love Island, Deodato
1978 Jungle Fever, Neil Larsen
1978 City Lights, Dr. John
1978 Yellow Magic Orchestra, Yellow Magic Orchestra
1979 High Gear, Neil Larsen
1979 Light the Light, Seawind
1979 Tango Palace, Dr. John
1979 Livin’ Inside Your Love, George Benson
1980 One Bad Habit, Michael Franks
1980 Red Cab to Manhattan, Stephen Bishop
1980 Terra Brasilis, Antonio Carlos Jobim
1981 Secret Combination, Randy Crawford
1981 Yellowjackets, Yellowjackets
1982 Cityscape, Michael Brecker
1982 Full Moon, Full Moon
1982 Windsong, Randy Crawford
1983 Mirage a Trois, Yellowjackets
1983 Nightline, Randy Crawford
1983 Two Eyes, Brenda Russell
1984 Once in a Lifetime, Michael Ruff
1985 Samurai Samba, Yellowjackets
1985 Take No Prisoners, Peabo Bryson
1985 Gettin’ Away with Murder, Patti Austin
1986 Double Vision, Bob James & David Sanborn
1986 Tutu, Miles Davis
1986 While the City Sleeps, George Benson
1987 Collaboration, Earl Klugh
1987 Get Close to My Love, Jennifer Holliday
1987 Love Songs, Randy Crawford
1987 Music from Siesta, Marcus Miller
1987 Love, Aztec Camera
1988 Land of Dreams, Randy Newman
1988 Nothing But the Truth, Rubén Blades (Elektra)
1989 Amandla, Miles Davis
1989 Spellbound, Joe Sample
1989 Tenderly, George Benson
1989 In a Sentimental Mood, Dr. John
1990 Ashes to Ashes, Joe Sample
1990 Blue Pacific, Michael Franks
1990 Language of Life, Everything But the Girl
1990 Marksman, Mark Whitfield
1991 Affinity, Thrashing Doves
1991 Unforgettable…With Love, Natalie Cole
1992 All the Way, Little Jimmy Scott (Sire)
1992 Glengarry Glen Ross, Original Soundtrack
1993 Here It Is, Jevetta Steele (Sony)
1993 Invitation, Joe Sample
1993 Take a Look, Natalie Cole
1994 Hearsay, David Sanborn
1994 Rhythm of Love, Anita Baker
1994 Holly & Ivy, Natalie Cole
1995 Pearls, David Sanborn
1995 Afterglow, Dr. John
1995 Only Trust Your Heart, Diana Krall
1996 All for You, Diana Krall
1996 Hard Bop Grandpop, Horace Silver
1996 Panamonk, Danilo Pérez
1996 That’s Right, George Benson
1996 Two for the Road, Dave Grusin
1997 Love Scenes, Diana Krall
1997 Prescription for the Blues, Horace Silver
1997 Salinas, Luis Salinas
1997 Nouveau Swing, Donald Harrison
1997 What the World Needs Now, McCoy Tyner
1998 When I Look in Your Eyes, Diana Krall
1998 Pure Imagination, Eric Reed
1998 Central Avenue, Danilo Pérez
1998 Standing Together, George Benson
1998 Sweet Georgia Peach, Russell Malone
1999 Why Should I Care, Diana Krall
1999 Jazz Has a Sense of Humor, Horace Silver
2000 Here’s To You Charlie Brown!, David Benoit
2000 Look Who’s Here, Russell Malone
2000 Motherland, Danilo Pérez
2001 You’re My Thrill, Shirley Horn
2001 Cruisin’, Marc Antoine
2001 Love Songs, Natalie Cole
2001 Heartstrings, Russell Malone
2001 Look of Love, Diana Krall
2002 A Song for You, Kenny Rankin
2002 Ask a Woman Who Knows, Natalie Cole
2002 Live in Paris, Diana Krall
2003 Salt, Lizz Wright
2004 Tri-C Jazz Festival 2004, Various Artists
2004 Girl in the Other Room, Diana Krall
2004 Accentuate the Positive, Al Jarreau
2005 It’s Time, Michael Bublé (Warner Music)
2005 Christmas Songs, Diana Krall
2006 Feeling Good, Joe Sample/Randy Crawford (PRA)
2006 From This Moment On, Diana Krall
2006 Before Me, Gladys Knight
2007 Trav’lin’ Light, Queen Latifah
2008 Across the Crystal Sea, Danilo Pérez
2008 No Regrets, Joe Sample/Randy Crawford (PRA)
2009 Quiet Nights, Diana Krall
2009 American Classic, Willie Nelson (Blue Note)
2009 Love Is the Answer, Barbra Streisand (Columbia)
2012 Kisses on the Bottom, Paul McCartney (Concord)
2013 Life Journey, Leon Russell (TBR Fall 13)
Tommy LiPuma Bio
Tommy LiPuma is a record producer, talent scout, and record company executive. A trained musician and saxophonist born and raised in Cleveland, LiPuma started in record promotion and quickly rose to become a celebrated producer and music industry leader. He has served in significant positions at almost every major record company—from being the first staff producer at A&M Records, and co-founder of Blue Thumb Records, in the 1960s; to head of Jazz and Progressive Music at Warner Bros. through the ‘80s; to Senior Vice-President of A&R at Elektra, and President of GRP and Impulse, in the ‘90s. From ’98 to 2005, he was Chairman of Verve Music, and Chairman Emeritus from ’05 through ’11.
To date, LiPuma’s productions have amounted to more than 75 million discs sold, with 35 albums certified gold or platinum, 33 Grammy nominations, and 4 Grammy wins. Diana Krall, Barbra Streisand, Miles Davis, Natalie Cole, George Benson, and Sir Paul McCartney are but a few of the artists whom he’s produced.
LiPuma is a member of a vanishing breed: the record producer as adept in the studio as he is in the office. His specialty is artist-and-repertoire— or “A & R”: matching the right artist with the right song, and intuiting the right stylistic approach for any project. His musical vision is varied, freely incorporating elements of jazz, R&B, soul, rock, and other styles into his productions.
LiPuma’s talent as a producer rests on the valuable and exceedingly rare ability to draw the best performances from a wide range of musicians and situations, and then preserve those magical moments to share with the world. One engineer who has witnessed LiPuma in action describes his in-studio method as that of a “Non-Producer”:
This is a guy with total confidence in himself, his artist and the team he has put together. He has a plan, but allows the musicians room to create. If he feels they are moving into an unproductive area or that they may not understand what he wants from them, he does not try to tell them what to do. Instead he explains his perspective so that the musicians understand him and then sits back. It is almost as if he turns on a colored light that allows the musicians to suddenly see things differently and be inspired. Tommy LiPuma is a genius at this.
In his unique, “non-production” manner, LiPuma has created a musical legacy that sounds as fresh, and remains as up-to-date and significant as the day when it was first recorded.
He was born Thomas LiPuma in 1936 and grew up in Cleveland, first exposed to the popular music stars of the day: Bing Crosby, Jo Stafford, the Andrews Sisters. While still a child, an extended bone infection caused him to find solace with a bedside radio; he discovered rhythm-and-blues and jazz stars of the day—Ruth Brown, Big Maybelle, Charles Brown, and Nat Cole became early heroes—and he was soon taking music lessons on tenor saxophone. By his teenage years, LiPuma was playing in small jam sessions and with local big bands, and catching every major musical act that came through town.
Cleveland was a hopping, urban center in the 1950s, with a rich, multi-ethnic music scene flowing with local talent that also drew national headliners. It was known as a “breakout city”—a proving ground where countrywide music hits first caught fire. Cleveland was also home to a number of influential radio deejays who were crossing racial and social boundaries with the jazz and R&B music they played: Bill Randall and Phil McLean on WERE, and the legendary Alan Freed on WJW. Freed’s program was sponsored by Leo Mintz, who ran the Record Rendezvous, the music store that served as the nexus of Cleveland’s musical community—and provided a source of education for the young LiPuma.
“Leo Mintz – whom I ended up becoming friendly with – had guys behind the counter who had some sort of radar, they knew when a record freak stepped into the store. They were able to figure out exactly what you should be hearing. Next thing I know I’d walk out of there with $10-20 more worth of records than I had planned on buying. I’ll never forget, the first record I ever got was at the age of 8 and was called “I Miss You So’ by the Cats and the Fiddle, a well-known group in the ‘40s. I heard it in the car with my future brother-in-law – I freaked out. The sound was so great, straight out of the Mills Brother bag only more soulful. We were just a few blocks down from the ‘Vous (which was what Alan Freed called it) – he got out, went and bought it for me! Between Cleveland’s local radio stations and the Record Rendezvous that was my real training.”
Through the ‘50s, LiPuma played gigs while attending barber school. Despite his passion for music, his destiny seemed one following his father’s livelihood: cutting hair. In 1956, he rented space in a downtown office building and set up a barbershop, directly across the street from a popular radio station. A number of deejays became customers and brought in promotion men and records distributors as new clients .In 1958, offered a chance to tour with a band, he leased his shop and toured for a year. Disgruntled by the experience and realizing that he was not to be a new saxophone sensation, LiPuma returned to Cleveland and a barber’s chair. One day later, he quit cutting hair for good.
Less than a week later, fate came knocking as one of his old customers became manager of a record distributorship and asked him if he wanted an entry level position packing records in the back room with the chance to advance. To his father’s disappointment, LiPuma was soon at M.S. Distributors for $50 a week. Four months later, he had worked his way from the back room to the front, taking on a job as local promotion representative.
Within a year, LiPuma caught the attention of Liberty Records in Los Angeles, that was rapidly expanding. They offered him a chance to serve as a local promotion man in L.A. He met a number of industry veterans who helped show him the ropes of the business, including Bobby Dale, radio deejay on KFWB, whom LiPuma credits for helping him overcome a puritanical attitude about jazz, and opening his ears to popular music of the day, and the power of songs in general.
“I had been into pop music of the forties and early fifities, but as a musician I soon got introduced to Charlie parker and Miles Davis, and became a bebop nut, a member of the jazz police—whom I now hate. I also liked big bands. I laughed when I heard the beginnings of rock n’ roll. Bobby had my attention because I respected his taste so much, and he helped me realize what a poet Chuck Berry was. Being a musician I was always more drawn to the melody than the lyric. Bobby taught me how important the lyric was to a song; it could reach into your soul as deep as a good melody. I suddenly took on a completely different view of music.”
In ’62, Liberty moved LiPuma to New York City, and then a year later, when Liberty acquired Imperial Records and its valuable catalog of songs, he returned to L.A. to work the publishing end of the business. He began to produce demo-sessions for such young songwriters as Jackie DeShannon, Randy Newman, and P.J. Proby. He got to know sessionmen like Leon Russell and A&R men like Al Schmitt, who later became LiPuma’s first-choice recording engineer. In late ’64, LiPuma produced his first recording date for release—with fellow Clevelanders The O’Jays —yielding the Top 40 R&B hit, “Lipstick Traces”.
LiPuma’s knack at establishing lasting relationships served him well. In 1965, two friends—Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss—hired him to be the first on-staff producer for their fast-growing A&M label. Over the next four years, he produced the Top Forty hits “Guantanamera” for the Sandpipers and “The More I See You”for Chris Montez; and gold albums for French chanteuse Claudine Longet (Claudine and The Look Of Love). He helped establish songwriter Roger Nichols,who along with Paul Williams wrote the Carpenters hit “We’ve Only Just Begun” and recorded country singer/songwriter Steve Young’s debut album Rock, Salt and Nails which had a song Steve wrote called “Seven Bridges Road”, which later the Eagles covered.
By late 1969, LiPuma was ready to break out on his own; with Bob Krasnow, he formed Blue Thumb Records.
“At that time I had fallen in love with the Buffalo Springfield, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan of course. I was in love with that moment – I had gone to the Monterey Pop Festival – 25 feet away from Jimi Hendrix when he burned his guitar! My feeling was that as great as Herb and Jerry were to me, I was being pigeonholed as a producer of a certain style of music. The inspiration to start Blue Thumb with Bob most definitely came out of the times—being in the midst of that incredible cultural explosion. I went straight from producing pop sides on Claudine and the Sandpipers, to working with Dave Mason from Traffic on his debut solo album”Alone Together”
BLUE THUMB (1969-1974)
From the close of the ‘60s and into the ‘70s, L.A. was ablaze with fresh talent. At Blue Thumb, LiPuma and Krasnow assembled an eclectic roster of musical talent that reflected the anything-goes excitement of the time. With signing power, LiPuma worked with Krasnow to bring in and produce a dizzying spectrum of styles and sounds: British rock songwriter Dave Mason; jazz guitarists Gabor Szabo and Phil Upchurch; Brazilian pianist Joao Donato; South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela; the Jazz Crusaders; jazz fusioneers Mark-Almond; keyboardist/songwriter Ben Sidran; R&B harmony group The Pointer Sisters; arranger Nick DeCaro; comedy troupe National Lampoon; and the psychedelic barroom-swing of Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks.
In 1974, LiPuma took on a production assignment for Columbia Records (as Blue Thumb’s co-owner, he could freelance at will), working with Barbra Streisand to create an album featuring the theme song to the movie The Way We Were. The combined success of the film and the album proved a huge boost for LiPuma, raising his profile. The same year, Krasnow and LiPuma sold Blue Thumb to ABC Records.
WARNER BROS. (1974-1978)
In late ‘74, LiPuma accepted an offer to join Warner Bros. as an A&R staff producer.
“I joined my friend Lenny Waronker at Warner Bros., whom I knew from Liberty. The first thing I did when I walked in the door was B.W. Stevenson – and then had a talk with Lenny, ‘I’m at this crossroads—I really have to think about what I do, and what do I do the best?’ At the time, I was a big fan of Creed Taylor’s records, and how he brought pop songs into the jazz arena – with Wes Montgomery, Stanley Turrentine. He was able to join the styles together, and I was drawn to that idea. Though Lenny was a little concerned wether Warners wanted to be in that business, he didn’t stand in my way. Then the first thing that came by my desk was Michael Franks! I put Michael together with the Crusaders, and The Art of Tea was a big success.
LiPuma’s next success was the career breakthrough that revealed his ability to recognize the seed of a pop triumph in an off-chance musical encounter.
Back in ’72, LiPuma was driving past the Keystone Korner, San Francisco’s premier jazz club of the day, and saw George Benson was appearing. Being a big fan of his work, he stopped in, and heard the jazz guitarist playing. It was the first time though that he heard him sing. Three years later, Krasnow—who had joined LiPuma at Warner Bros.—alerted him to the fact that Benson was contractually available. LiPuma jumped at the chance to produce Benson and in the ensuing sessions, urged him to record a vocal track, something he had only done twice before. LiPuma also brought in “Breezin’”, a tune he had produced for Gabor Szabo for Blue Thumb, and mid-session, decided to call on the talents of good friend and arranger Claus Ogerman, then living in Germany.
The result was Breezin’, an unparalleled multi-platinum smash (especially for an album that was primarily jazz) that ruled the airwaves the year of America’s bicentennial. In an unprecedented feat, the album attained the #1 positions on the Pop, R&B and Jazz charts, simultaneously. Breezin’ also yielded two major singles—a Top 10 hit with the title track (an ultra-rare occurrence for an instrumental by the late ‘70s), and the vocal number “This Masquerade”, which earned LiPuma the first of his Grammy awards.
“It was really my first gigantic record. It was a great chance to exercise all the elements of being an A&R man: choosing the tunes, the sidemen, the studio. It was so fulfilling—it took me three days to come down from the high of being chosen Record of the Year! And it wasn’t just one album; it was a huge run: from Breezin’, to In Flight, to Weekend in L.A. It changed everything in my life.”
More solid sellers ensued from Benson and Franks, as well as albums by vocalist Al Jarreau and jazz keyboardists Eumir Deodato and the great Jazz pianist Bill Evans; Brazilian samba legends Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto;
For a number of months at the close of 1978 into ‘79, LiPuma returned to A&M to head their newly formed Horizon imprint, working with a wide range of artists that included R&B vocalist Brenda Russell, Japanese pop ensemble Yellow Magic Orchestra, jazz fusion group Seawind, and New Orleans blues, boogie and rock pianist Dr. John.
WARNER BROS. (1979-1990)
LiPuma was drawn back to Warner Bros. with a new deal and a new title: Vice President, Jazz and Progressive Music. From the late 1970s into the ‘80s, running Warner Jazz, LiPuma produced recordings by singers Randy Crawford and Brenda Russell; jazz-pop group the Yellowjackets; R&B vocalists Peabo Bryson and Patti Austin.
A number of LiPuma’s Warner Bros. productions stand out as both popular successes and being of historic importance. In 1982, LiPuma brought together Ogerman with Michael Brecker; Cityscape stands as the influential saxophonist’s first recording as featured artist. Three years later, he paired keyboardist Bob James and saxophonist David Sanborn; Double Vision—with a guest turn by Jarreau— was a double platinum album, and remains one of the most satisfying recordings by either (and the only meeting of both up until that time). In ’86, on an intuitive whim, LiPuma joined Miles Davis—who had just signed to Warner Bros. after 30 years with Columbia Records, and young bassist/producer Marcus Miller to co-produce the abum Tutu, the forward-looking album that recharged the legendary trumpeter’s career.
LiPuma’s last years at Warner Bros. found him in the studio again, producing memorable albums with guitarist Earl Klugh and George Benson called “Collaboration”, British pop artist Roddy Frame’s Aztec Camera, and Everything But The Girl. One of the final projects was Dr. John’s first standards collection, In A Sentimental Mood, the opening track of which (“Makin’ Whoopee”, a duet with Rickie Lee Jones) notched a Grammy.
In 1990, LiPuma left Warner Bros. to become Senior Vice-President at Elektra, where former partner and friend Bob Krasnow was at the helm. Within a year he started working with singer Natalie Cole on a tribute to her famous father.
“Leaving Warners was a big move. I had been there 17 years, but it helped that I rejoined my old buddy from Blue Thumb days, Bob Krasnow. We had really great musical communication—you could almost call it karma. Only a few months after joining Elektra, he called me and said that he had heard that Natalie Cole was available to be signed, what did I think? Turns out I had just seen her singing ‘Pink Cadillac’ on MTV; she sounded great! So I said yes, immediately. At our first meeting, Bob and I suggested doing a tribute album to her father. Natalie had wanted to do this idea for sometime, but Capital records, her former label didn’t want her to. But she thought we should wait and make it the second album. I remember telling her that great ideas can be like a virus, once it’s in the air, anyone can catch that idea. She thought about it for a while, and wisely changed her mind.”
At the time, the popular R&B singer would close her concerts singing along to a recording of one of Nat Cole’s best-known singles from 1951. LiPuma and Cole, executive producers on the mammoth, 23-track project that also benefited from the involvement of producers David Foster and Andre Fischer, decided to close the album the same way. Through the magic of digital technology, “Unforgettable” became a duet between daughter and dad, and the track proved irresistibly popular. The single was a runaway hit, the album Unforgettable…with Love was eventually certified 9 times platinum, and the project garnered three Grammy Awards—earning LiPuma his second of three.
LiPuma’s track record at Elektra continued. Subsequent Natalie Cole recordings—Take A Look, Holly and Ivy—were bestsellers. In ’92, with the well-crafted and critically lauded standards album All The Way (produced for the Sire label), he revived the career of Little Jimmy Scott, a barely remembered but great singer of the Fifties, who hailed from Cleveland. The same year, he was asked to produced the music for the David Mamet film Glen Garry Glenross, he secured the services of film composer James Newton Howard, arranger/saxophonist Benny Golson, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist/vocalist Shirley Horn, harmony group Take 6, David Sanborn, Dr. John and Al Jarreau. It turned out to be a number 1 Jazz album. In ’94, LiPuma produced Anita Baker’s Rhythm of Love; a few months later, he ended his association with Elektra.
In ’94, Universal Music offered LiPuma the chance to become president of the GRP label, which had been one of the first companies to dedicate their catalog to the compact disc format. The opportunity was tempting. and it afforded him the chance to reactivate the long-dormant Blue Thumb imprint which Universal now owned. “When I came to GRP in the mid-’90s, my plans were simple. I wanted to consolidate the roster, reinstate Blue Thumb as an active label, and re-establish Impulse as a force to be reckoned with—as it was when Impulse, Prestige, and Blue Note led the market in the ’60s.”
In the years that followed, LiPuma built GRP, producing albums by old friends (Dr. John, George Benson), GRP veterans (Dave Grusin, David Benoit), modern jazz stalwarts (Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner) and a host of young players who were expanding into new musical territory: pianists Danilo Perez and Eric Reed; and saxophonist Donald Harrison. In addition he signed a number of projects that caught the acid-jazz, return-to-the-dance-floor vibe of the day, including Nuyorican Soul and Groove Collective. In 1999, after Universal’s acquisition of Polygram resulted in the merger of the GRP and Verve labels, LiPuma was named chairman of the Verve Music Group.
If one artist’s career serves as a perfect example of LiPuma’s experience and skill at A&R, it would be Diana Krall. Starting with Only Trust Your Heart in ’95, and her second album, All For You, a tribute to Nat Cole, though it wasn’t until Love Scenes with the breakout song “Peel Me a Grape” (which broke the ice with a larger audience), that Krall began to hone her musical personality. In ‘99, LiPuma recruited Johnny Mandel to create charts for Krall’s next album; When I Look In Your Eyes which was a breakout success with 2 million copies sold, and was nominated for Album of the Year (the first time in 25 years that happened at the Grammys with a jazz title) and won two awards for Best Jazz Vocal and Best Engineered Album. In 2001, The Look of Love debuted in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Albums chart, and eventually sold over 4 million copies globally. 2002’s Live in Paris became another international hit, and netted LiPuma his third Grammy.
“From the first time I heard Diana in 1994, I knew she was great and had the potential to become the star that she is today. We’ve made 12 albums together, which have sold a cumulative of 18 million records, and you can hear the confidence she’s gained. She keeps challenging herself with each new project, and always comes out on top. I’m proud of having been part of that, and also to call her one of my dearest friends. She refers to my wife Gill and I as her New York parents.”
LiPuma’s successes at Verve continued through the 2000s, with releases focusing on both vocal and instrumental jazz, including albums by singers Shirley Horn and Lizz Wright, and guitarist Russell Malone. In 2004, after more than forty years in the business, LiPuma took on the position of Chairman Emeritus at Verve, and became more selective of the projects he chose to produce, which included reconnecting with Joe Sample, Natalie Cole and Al Jarreau, as well as recording standards albums for Kenny Rankin, Gladys Knight, and Queen Latifah.
During LiPuma’s tenure at Verve, a number of outside labels were seeking his studio expertise, and with Universal’s permission, he began to freelance again. In ’05, he produced a few tracks for Michael Buble’s breakthrough album It’s Time for Warner Music; in ’09, it was Willie Nelson’s American Classic for Blue Note. That same year, with Krall co-producing, LiPuma reunited with Barbra Streisand and made Love Is The Answer for Columbia.
In 2011, LiPuma retired his Emeritus title and for the first time in over four decades, found himself self-employed full-time. Almost immediately, Paul McCartney asked him to produce his next album; just this year, the ex-Beatle’s first-ever standards album, Kisses On The Bottom, was a critical success for Concord, garnering a Grammy Award for Best Pop Standard Album (Vocal). He also produced an album with his old friend Leon Russell called “Life Journey, which has an expected release in the fall of 2013. Today, LiPuma remains one of the music industry’s most in-demand producers, and is currently considering or actively producing a number of projects.
Outside of music, LiPuma’s passion is 20th Century American Modernism. Works from his collection, which features pieces from such artists as Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Arthur Dove, and Alfred Maurer, have been displayed at numerous museums and galleries, including the Whitney Museum of Art, NY, the Cleveland Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Georgia O’Keefe Museum (Santa Fe, NM); The Demuth Museum (Lancaster, PA); Addison Gallery of American Art (Andover, MA); and Berry Hill, Hollis Taggert, and Salander-O’Reilly galleries (New York City).
Though LiPuma has not called Cleveland home since departing in 1961, the city that provided him his start has never been far. He has remained a supporter of the city’s annual jazz festival—the Tri-C JazzFest—contributing funds and music, and teaching master classes at the university for which it is named: Cuyahoga Community College. In recognition of LiPuma’s largesse and accomplishments, on March 22, 2012, the college named their new arts studies center the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts.
“To say that this is an honor, would be putting it mildly. Especially when I realize how significant this once busy street was in my years growing up here in Cleveland. I may be biased, but I have seen other programs and facilities around the world, in cities like Los Angeles, London, New York City. The creative arts program at Tri-C, and the Center for Creative Arts itself, are exactly the model that any leading institution in any of those cities would be proud to have; it’s at a world-class level. The future of music, and the future of the music business starts in programs like these.”
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