by Scott Yanow

I first heard Lia Booth singing two songs at Disney Hall as part of a Christmas show featuring trumpeter Arturo Sandoval. My curiosity was piqued so I saw her at the Vibrato Grill, and it was quite an impressive performance.

The jazz singer was joined by pianist Jeremy Siskind, guitarist Miles Jensen, bassist Gabe Davis, drummer Shawn Baltazor, and tenor-saxophonist Tama Shutts. Ms. Booth displayed a beautiful and versatile voice, dug deep into the lyrics that she interpreted, scatted quite well, and was very witty at times.

Just as impressive as her powerful voice and joyful style were the arrangements and frameworks that were given to the standards. The night began with some atmospheric free playing that soon became a hard-swinging “Blue Skies” with concise soloing from each of the musicians. It served as a perfect start. Lia sounded especially confident on a passionate version of “No More Blues,” and followed it up with “I Only Have Eyes For You,” a rapid rendition of “This Can’t Be Love,” and “You Go To My Head” (which utilized the famous drum rhythm of Ahmad Jamal’s “Poinciana”).

During “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon” it was revealed that tenor-saxophonist Tama Shutts is both an excellent singer and Lia’s husband. He harmonized behind her, scatted for two choruses, the two singers traded off, and at one point they had an unaccompanied duet with Shutts often singing the bass lines.

Lia Booth was also particularly impressive on “Lazy Afternoon,” hitting some very high notes during the wordless introduction and taking an expressive vocal. On “’A’ You’re Adorable,” a duet with guitarist Jensen, she sounded a bit like Doris Day. The colorful set concluded with a sassy rendition of “Peel Me A Grape.”

It all made for a memorable evening of chance taking jazz that was both adventurous and swinging. It was also a good excuse to go to the prestigious Vibrato Grill and enjoy the picturesque and beautiful surroundings.

A beloved veteran singer, Beverly Church Hogan and her husband suffered a major loss when their home was severely damaged by a huge boulder during one of Southern California’s more ferocious rainstorms. The costs to the couple are enormous, both financially and emotionally, and they have had to find temporary housing.

At Catalina Bar & Grill, many of Southern California’s singers came out to both pay tribute to Beverly Hogan and to raise money for the couple. Featured on one song apiece during the night were Mark Winkler, L. Aviva Diamond, Mary Bogue, Laura White, Phyllis Causey, Claudia Koval (who flew in from Canada for the benefit), Lorraina Marro, Cathy Segal-Garcia, Judy Wexler, Dave Tull, Dolores Scozzesi, Sidney Jacobs (who took honors with a superior and scat-filled version of “Sugar”), John Proulx, and Karen Cruz. They were joined by two different bands with the first half of the night featuring tenor-saxophonist Rickey Woodard, guitarist Grant Geissman, pianist Steve Rawlins, bassist Jennifer Leitham, and drummer Clayton Cameron while the later portion had Bob Sheppard on tenor, pianist John Proulx, guitarist Dori Amarilio, bassist Trevor Ware and drummer Dave Tull.

There were many heartwarming moments along the way and all of the participants deserve applause for contributing to this very worthy benefit. Readers who are interested in making a donation to the Hogans are invited to contribute to

Singer Susan Krebs has been opening up her home for a series of house concerts called Salon on Buffalo. More information about these intimate and diverse concerts can be found at

On one Sunday afternoon, she was the host for a memorable performance by Mark Towns and his Flamenco Jazz Quartet. Towns, who has often contributed to the Los Angeles Jazz Scene with his Ritmo Caliente column, is a versatile guitarist who can be heard at various times performing with his Flamenco Fusion band, Essence, Brazilliance, as a solo guitarist, and as the head of his Latin Jazz Band. He displays his own sound, superior technique, and plenty of top-notch jazz improvising whether performing straight ahead jazz, Brazilian and Afro-Cuban jazz, a variety of Latin styles, flamenco or in other genres.

The group that appeared at Salon On Buffalo was called the Mark Towns Flamenco Jazz Quartet. The unit consisted of its leader, pianist Joe Rotundi, bassist Ross Schodek, and percussionist Roland Garcia. With one exception, all of the music they performed was Towns’ originals which were generally Afro-Cuban jazz with an occasional bossa nova and a few departures.

Towns and the brilliant pianist Rotundi displayed their versatility with consistently inventive solos. Starting with the melodic groove of “Salsera,” the concert included such pieces as “Last Night,” “Listen To the Sunrise,” the energetic “Vista,” the warm melody of “Sabrosa,” a couple numbers (“El Talisman” and “Pura Vida”) in which Towns was showcased in a pianoless trio, the relaxing “Orange And Blue,” the picturesque “Colors Of The Morning Sky,” and a closing rumba, “Obsesion.”

The 90-minute-set featured many impressive solos from Towns and Rotundi along with attentive and grooving accompaniment from Schodek and Garcia. The comfortable and attractive Salon On Buffalo is an ideal place in which to experience music of this quality. The afternoon’s music made one want to visit Salon On Buffalo more often and to check out Mark Towns’ recordings.

Gerry Mulligan (1927-96) had a very interesting and productive life. He started out on clarinet and also spent time playing tenor and alto before settling on the baritone sax. An arranger from an early age, as a teenager Mulligan wrote for his high school band and at 16 for a local radio station. He dropped out of high school as a senior to tour with a band. During his early days he was rated higher as an arranger than he was as an instrumentalist. Mulligan wrote for the big bands of Tommy Tucker, Elliot Lawrence, Gene Krupa (having a hit with “Disc Jockey Jump”) and Claude Thornhill. Mulligan was a major part of the Miles Davis Birth of the Cool Nonet during 1948-50, contributing the majority of the arrangements and playing baritone. After a period of struggle, he ended up in Los Angeles leading a pianoless quartet at the Haig that included trumpeter Chet Baker that became extremely popular during its year. Mulligan was always interested in all eras of jazz up to that point and his interplay with Baker owed a bit to Dixieland although in a more modern setting. Now a national celebrity, Mulligan led another pianoless quartet with valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, had a sextet and ended the decade with a quartet that matched him with trumpeter Art Farmer.

A lover of jam sessions, Mulligan went out of his way to play and record with other musicians including Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges, Jimmy Witherspoon, Stan Getz, Thelonious Monk, Paul Desmond, and fellow baritonist Harry Carney (on a special piece written by Duke Ellington).

Gerry Mulligan led a pianoless big band, the Concert Jazz Band, during 1960-63. Surprisingly, due to being very busy keeping the orchestra going, he did not write much music for his own orchestra. After a slow period, Mulligan became a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet during 1968-73. He put together a big band for which he wrote music (The Age Of Steam), and freelanced in a wide variety of settings during his final 20 years including working with symphony orchestras, leading the Re-Birth of the Cool (which revisited the Miles Davis Nonet repertoire) and heading a quartet that had Bill Mays, Ted Rosenthal or Bill Charlap on piano.

All of this and much more is covered in Steven A. Cerra’s book Gerry Mulligan – Writings On A Jazz Original. Cerra was originally a drummer who worked with Bobby Troup and Anita O’Day among others in the 1960s. Since 2008, he has posted over 3,500 features on his JazzProfiles blog ( His previous book is A Bill Evans Reader.

Although the 356 page Gerry Mulligan book is not technically a straight biography of the baritonist, it covers most aspects of his life. Articles, essays, interviews, reviews and quotes written by 33 journalists and associates are included, sometimes in full. Most were written during the baritonist’s lifetime. Cerra organized these often-historic pieces in loosely chronological order, contributing introductions, transitions and his own open-minded and even-handed commentary throughout. The seven chapters include one on each of the decades from the 1940s through the 1990s plus a final Recapitulation. There is a certain amount of repetition since many of the articles start out with similar ideas (emphasizing Mulligan’s group with Baker) before revealing their plots and ideas. Among the more significant writers who are represented (all are fully credited) are Michael Bourne, Bill Crow, Leonard Feather, Ira Gitler, Joe Goldberg, Gordon Jack, Bill Kirchner, John McDonough, Alyn Morgan, Ken Poston, Doug Ramsey, George T. Simon, Steve Voce, and Peter Welding although all 33 make strong contributions. Gordon Jack’s articles, which are lesser-known, are a major asset and full of fresh stories and ideas. Among the most interesting articles is an interview with Arlyne Mulligan who was married to the baritonist for much of the 1950s. Her tales about his personal life gives readers a lot of new information and anecdotes that help one to understand his personality during that era.

Also of particularly strong interest are the pieces about Mulligan’s work and life in the 1970s and ‘80s, including some rare interviews with the baritonist himself. While always celebrated for his recordings of the 1950s, a strong case is made that Mulligan’s writing and playing during the often-overlooked second half of his career was at least as significant and innovative as his earlier work.

Anyone with any interest in Gerry Mulligan’s music and life will learn a great deal by acquiring Writings On A Jazz Original. 50% of all the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Gerry Mulligan Foundation which supports school music programs. This essential book is available from

I have a new book that is available from Life Through The Eyes Of A Jazz Journalist. It is subtitled My Jazz Memoirs and is my 12th book and first in a few years. I discuss in an often-humorous fashion my early days and discovery of jazz, my period as the jazz editor of Record Review, the story behind my involvement with the All Music Guide, and I reminisce about some of my adventures as an amateur musician. Included are vintage interviews with Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea, and Maynard Ferguson, encounters with Clint Eastwood, summaries of the Monterey and Playboy Jazz Festivals (including a full-length review of the 1985 Playboy Festival), memories of other events (such as the IAJE Conventions), and brief snapshots of many memorable club and concert performances. There is also background information about my other books, evaluations of the jazz critics who inspired me early on, and my thoughts on jazz criticism which includes advice to up-and-coming jazz journalists. Rounding out the book is a chapter on how the jazz writing business has changed over the past 50 years, and appendixes that include the jazz greats of the past, 86 jazz giants of today, 21 young performers to look for in the future, jazz books and DVDs that everyone should own, and a dozen enjoyable Hollywood jazz films.
Life Through The Eyes Of A Jazz Journalist, a paperback book, sells for $26 through Signed copies (which will take 2-3 weeks) are also available for $30 (which includes free postage) by sending the money via Pay Pal to and by sending your mailing address to that E-mail.

Every jazz musician needs a well-written press biography, every CD deserves informative liner notes, and important events benefit from press releases. I write all of these and more at reasonable rates. Contact me ( at 661-678-3542 or for further information about my services.  .

My latest book, Jazz Through The Eyes Of A Jazz Journalist (My Jazz Memoirs) is available at