Nationally-Famed Cleveland-Born Record Producer Tommy LiPuma Dies

LiPuma concentrated on a number by Dominick Farinacci during a Tri-C recording session in 2015. [David C. Barnett / ideastream]
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Tommy LiPuma left an indelible mark on the American music industry over the course of a fifty-plus-year career, working with artists that covered a wide range of styles, including Barbara Streisand, Dr. John, the Pointer Sisters, Miles Davis, Diana Krall and guitarist George Benson.

LiPuma's love for music started as a kid listening to jazz and rhythm and blues tunes on Cleveland radio, and later evolved to playing tenor sax in local bands.

In a 2003 ideastream interview, he said he learned the basics of the music business as a promoter for a local record distributor.

"An independent distributor would handle numerous labels," he told host Dee Perry.  "And you'd go to radio stations and you'd promote the records."

But, for all his fame, Tommy LiPuma never forgot his home town, backing an arts studies center at Cuyahoga Community College, which was named in his honor.   He also worked closely with the Tri-C Jazz Fest, and its director Terri Pontremoli.

"I think that his years of doing master classes and talking to students and working with our local musicians, as well, meant a lot to him," she says.

"To me, the most important thing was the song," LiPuma mused in 2003.  "If you don't have the song, you don't have anything."

Tommy Lipuma is survived by his wife and two daughters.  He was 80 years old.  

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