Lorraine Gordon, queen of the Village Vanguard

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IF YOU were to ask Lorraine Gordon to draw a map of the jazz universe, she wouldn’t focus on New Orleans or Chicago or Memphis. No: the Village Vanguard in New York, one of the city’s oldest jazz clubs, would be at the centre for her. Shaped like a pie slice and blessed with perfect acoustics, the Vanguard hosted jazz’s most influential and renowned musicians. Rising stars and legends alike chose the venue to capture their jazz live; more than 100 recordings were produced there, some of which won Grammys. Presiding over all this was Ms Gordon, who died on June 9th. She treated the basement-level club on Seventh Avenue South as something between a shrine and a public music salon. 

Born Lorraine Stein in 1922, Ms Gordon was already a jazz fan before she made her first visit to the Vanguard aged 17. There she fell in love—with the genre’s scene and with Alfred Lion, the founder of Blue Note Records. With marriage came a job at the label in the 1940s, which, alongside a thriving live-music field in Manhattan, introduced her to new…Continue reading

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