By: Molly Black, Metro Staff Writer
Less than two months after his annual talk to a classroom of Tri-C’s Metropolitan Campus’s Recording Arts & Technology students, local philanthropist and multi-Grammy-winning music producer, Mr. Thomas (Tommy) LiPuma died in hospital in Manhattan, on March 13, 2017. He passed away after being hospitalized for pneumonia, according to Billboard Magazine.
“Students were in awe of Tommy,” said G. Paul Cox, Dean of Creative Arts at Tri-C. “He had this legendary reputation as a producer, so they hung on every word in his music and recording arts master classes. He was also curious about what students in the film and art programs were up to. But his heart was in jazz. Students will remember his high standards, the importance of listening to the greats, especially singers — Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Diana Krall — and appreciating the rich history of jazz.
David King, the Program Manager of Tri-C’s Recording Arts & Technology (RAT) department, spoke about hearing certain musicians on the latest Diana Krall album at an intimate gathering for RAT students. He said, “Tommy was special because he allowed [their] personality to come through and maintain their character whilst recording the song in such a way that they’re some of the best versions of those songs that I heard.” King also put together a 640+ video playlist on YouTube.com of just a small selection from LiPuma’s productions*.
LiPuma donated $3 million dollars in the largest private donation to Tri-C, in 2012, in order to help upgrade and update the RAT department and help jump start musicians and recording artist students from his hometown of Cleveland. Though he no longer lived in CLE, he continued to return to Tri-C at least once a year in order to continue helping local students achieve their goals in music and also provided scholarships to students in the RAT program.
Russell Carter, a former RAT student who was at this year’s annual listening session and who had met LiPuma several times, said, “The best thing was listening to music that he had freshly recorded and how he talked about his relationship with Diana Krall.” Carter continued, “He always just had stories; he had stories that go back – to way back to the fifties and the sixties…he had a lot of wisdom.”
Mr. Kevin Baylon, RAT Senior Audio Engineer and Technician, handled the specially made speakers that LiPuma would send out every year for an annual intimate listening event for a select few RAT students. He said, “I owe Tommy very much in my life. The full-time position that I have right now is partly due to him.”
“Tommy stressed the importance of a studio facility having a routine maintenance schedule and having someone to oversee it and also to instill in the students the importance of maintaining your equipment properly so [the] students could be performing at their best,” added King.
According to his New York Times obituary his family announced the death; he is survived by his wife, Gill; his two children, Jen Monti and Danielle Wiener; and four grandchildren.
*viewable at www.tinyurl.com/lipumalive
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