"From Tender Ballads to Swinging Grooves...This Is A Singer in Command of His Craft."

I could use every superlative in the dictionary to describe what a fantastic show Rick Reuther and the Tom Hagen All Atars performed for an overflow audience at our Jan. 17th Jazz Gumbo. Opening with an up tempo instrumental of “One Mint Julip” featuring the great tenor sax playing of Mike Lutley, Rick’s first number was a rollicking version of one of Sinatra’s hits, “I Believe in You”.

All dressed in black tux’s, white shirts and black bow ties, the band looked as great as it sounded. Tom Hagen’s arrangements were superb – “Just in Time” was a tight full band chart that gave James Sawyer his trumpet solo; Paul Brewer his trombone licks; and Mike Lutley had opportunities throughout the evening to display his talents on flute and clarinet as well as his saxophone.

Cherie Hagen came from behind her drum set to do two great duets with Rick: a “he said, she said” version of “He’s a Tramp” and “The Lady is a Tramp”, and in the second set, “Let’s Fall in Love”. The highlight of the evening, for yours truly, was the opening of the second set with Tom offering the Count Basie version of “All of Me” from the “Sinatra at the Sands” album. From his first tinkling piano notes, I could shut my eyes and be back in the late 70’s when I got to hear this great orchestra in person so many times. Another highlight (there were so many!) was the closing number of the first set when Tom set off with a boogie-beat to introduce Rick’s great vocal of “On the Street Where You Live”.

In recognition of this evening being Martin Luther King Day, Rick did a great tribute “tie-in” of Sinatra’s early 50’s position on racial tolerance when he made a movie short called “The House I Live In” which won an Academy Award. I thought this was a very nice addition to an evening which was, as stated in my opening, deserving of every synonym of “wonderful” that one can think of!

Betty Forrest
Executive Director
West Michigan Jazz Society &
wife of the late legendary saxist
Jimmy Forrest