Solly Lipsitz, a prominent member of Northern Ireland’s Jewish community died on Saturday aged 92 years and was buried today in Carnmoney cemetery. Solly, lovingly known as ‘Northern Ireland’s Mr. Jazz’ enjoyed a distinguished and influential career in the local music scene.
He was a former music critic (jazz) with the Belfast Telegraph, and was also employed by the Newsletter, having been engaged by the incomparable Charlie Fitzgerald to review jazz events. He owned the famous Atlantic Record shop specialising in Jazz imports and the Jazz Club on the Embankment in Belfast.
Charlie attended the funeral along with Solly’s other great friends, the poet Michael Longley, the critic Edna Longley and the artist Neil Shawcross, who painted with Raymond Piper the famous duo of portraits of Charlie , exhibited at the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts.
In a number of interviews Van Morrison has described the influence Lipsitz and the music he brought to Belfast had on his development. Lipsitz is credited in the liner notes of a number of Morrison’s own works (Magic Time, Born to Sing: No Plan B).
He was an Honorary Member of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts and is credited for discovering a number of important local talents.
A highly cultured Jazz and arts aficionado he brought much needed sophistication to a Belfast and Northern Ireland during some of its most calamitous times.