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UW-Eau Claire Alumnus on Tour with Queen Latifah

RELEASED: Oct. 25, 2007

EAU CLAIRE — A UW-Eau Claire 1997 alumnus is on tour with Queen Latifah, promoting her new CD "Travelin' Light."

Tom Luer
Tom Luer
(Photo credit: Diego Nebel)

Tom Luer, a Chippewa Falls native, moved to Los Angeles 2½ years ago to pursue a performance career. Previously Luer had primarily taught music, serving on the faculties of the University of North Texas; Texas Christian University; North Lake College in Irving, Texas; and Bethel College in North Newton, Kan.

Luer has a bachelor's degree in music from UW-Eau Claire and a master's degree in saxophone performance from the University of Southern Mississippi and has done doctoral studies at the University of North Texas. He said he is still in shock that he is touring with Queen Latifah.

"You grow up owning the records of people and then suddenly you find yourself working with them — it's crazy," Luer said.

Queen Latifah is a popular, jazz, soul, blues and hip-hop artist and recently starred in the movie "Hairspray." Despite her fame, Queen Latifah is very easy to work with, Luer said.

"She's an amazing musician with an incredible jazz voice as well as being a great actress. She's also a very nice, down-to-earth person who is an absolute joy to be around."

Being nice and working hard is something Luer said he learned from Bob Baca, director of jazz studies at UW-Eau Claire.

"Bob instilled in me a desire to do the very best I can and also to bend over backwards to get the job done and done well." Luer said. "I try to be easy to work with and I think I'm getting a reputation for that."

Being nice has benefits, Luer has discovered. He got his lucky break from a friend, Bob Shepherd, a well-known saxophone player who plays in the band of the television show "American Idol." Shepherd had been asked to go on the Queen Latifah tour and couldn't so he recommended Luer for the job.

Baca, who directed Luer in the UW-Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble, said he wasn't surprised to hear of Luer's success.

"Tom possesses the work ethic that when given the right direction that UW Eau Claire offers, prompts a no-limitation attitude," Baca said. "His playing has always been on fire, and his positive spirit opens him up to any possibility."

Luer is playing alto and tenor saxophones, flute and alto flute on the tour.

"It's challenging to switch back and forth between the four instruments," Luer said. "I'm glad it's demanding. It's making me a better musician."

The tour has a rigorous schedule with shows throughout New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey in October before heading south to Virginia, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana, then west to Arizona and Nevada and ending in California in November.

Once the tour is completed Luer hopes he'll be able to continue working with Queen Latifah or that it will lead to working with other popular artists.

"Performing like this is the reason I moved to L.A., and I'm gratified that after working hard all the time it's all paying off," Luer said.

-30-

KH

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