Lorraine Gordon Day

October 15, 1922 – June 9, 2018


A tribute to the owner of the Village Vanguard

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Lorraine Gordon passed away on June 9 2018 at the age of 95.

Lorraine Gordon was born on October 15, 1922 in Newark, New Jersey, she always loved jazz.

In 1942 she married Alfred Lion, the head of the Blue Note label, and for a few years she assisted Gordon as the label evolved from a swing and New Orleans jazz company into one that recorded such modernists as Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell.

The marriage did not last and, after the divorce, in 1949 she married Max Gordon, the owner of the Village Vanguard.

Max Gordon had already been running the club for 14 years and, although it originally featured variety acts, comedians and some music, in the 1950s the Village Vanguard became the most famous of all jazz clubs.

Lorraine Gordon was an important force behind the scenes until Max’s death in 1989.

At that point she took over the ownership and management of the Village Vanguard, keeping the same direction for the club in presenting the best in modern jazz.

Lorraine Gordon, who had her memoirs Alive At The Village Vanguard published in 2006, became famous for being a colorful and outspoken character, but one who always fought for jazz and her club.

She remained very active until late 2012 (by then her daughter was beginning to run the operations) and could still be seen in the Village Vanguard on a nightly basis until shortly before her passing.

Filmmaker David Lewis is responsible for this definitive short documentary on Lorraine Gordon from 2000.

-Scott Yanow


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