Montreal, Sunday, June 30, 2013 — Illustrious producer Tommy LiPuma will be honoured today by the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal with the Bruce Lundvall Award. He will be presented with the award by André Ménard, artistic director and co-founder of the Festival, at 8:35 p.m. at the George Benson concert in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, PdA. George Benson himself—LiPuma’s first multi-platinum success was George Benson’s album Breezin’—will hand him the award in front of the audience.
Tommy LiPuma is the fifth recipient of the Bruce Lundvall Award created in 2009 during the Festival’s 30th edition and presented annually to an individual who has left a mark on the world of jazz or contributed to the development of the music, through the media, the concert or record industries.
An American producer with 50 years of experience in the music world, Tommy LiPuma has worked with an impressive array of musicians in the spheres of pop and jazz, from George Benson to Diana Krall, Barbra Streisand to Paul McCartney. His résumé is adorned with some 35 gold and platinum albums, along with 3 Grammy Awards. The “LiPuma Touch”, a blend of refinement, professionalism and musical passion, is now highly appreciated by music fans, critics, and above all, the artistic community.
Born in 1936 in Cleveland, Ohio, Tommy LiPuma discovered a deep affinity for R&B and jazz at an early age―his early idols were none other than Nat King Cole, Ruth Brown, Louis Jordan… As a teen, he took up the tenor saxophone and performed with various notable local bands. After a pause during which he considered becoming a barber like his father, LiPuma began making his way in the music industry. He first worked in promotion, notably for Liberty Records; then, one thing leading to another, he entered production, recording demos for Jackie DeShannon and Randy Newman and producing a first hit single, Lipstick Traces, for The O’Jays in 1965.
That same year, LiPuma arrived at A&M Records, where he would spend four years producing a series of pop hits, including Guantanamera by the Sand Pipers. In 1969, he and Bob Krasnow joined forces to found Blue Thumb Records. The new label’s eclectic roster included such notables as Dave Mason, Gabor Szabo, Ben Sidran and The Jazz Crusaders. In 1974, Columbia Records solicited LiPuma’s expertise for the album The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand, a resounding success.
In 1976, then working at Warner Bros., LiPuma produced Breezin by George Benson, a smash hit with the greater public. During the ‘80s, as Vice-president of Jazz and Progressive Music at Warner, he left his mark on albums by Peabo Bryson, Yellowjackets, Miles Davis and Everything But the Girl. Moving on to Elektra in 1990, he co-produced the ineffable Unforgettable by Natalie Cole, an album that went multi-platinum and collected 3 Grammy Awards. In 1994, LiPuma became president of GRP/Verve Records, and would meet a young Canadian singer and pianist named Diana Krall, whom he would go on to produce. The collaboration would be fruitful, to say the very least: a dozen multi-million-selling albums, including Live in Paris, in 2002, a Grammy winner… Tommy LiPuma’s recent production efforts include the first ever album of jazz standards by Sir Paul McCartney, Kisses on the Bottom, released in 2012.
As winner of the Bruce Lundvall Award, Tommy LiPuma follows in the footsteps of Michael Cuscuna (2012), George Wein (2011) Herman Leonard (2010), Bruce Lundvall (2009).
— 30 —