Today, as part of KUVO’s observance of Women’s History Month, we profile Lorraine Gordon, owner and manager of the Village Vanguard, one of the most storied clubs in jazz, referred to by Nat Hentoff as “the closest we have to the Camelot of jazz rooms.” We also encourage you to explore Women and Girls Lead, a major public media initiative focused on women and girls’ issues, connecting citizens in Colorado, across the country and around the world.

A lifelong jazz fan who grew up in Newark, NJ, Lorraine Gordon was first married to Alfred Lion, co-founder of Blue Note Records. Married for ten years, the couple worked to record legendary jazz artists during the 1940’s. After her divorce, she married Max Gordon, owner of the Village Vanguard. Max was not the jazz fan that Lorraine was, but her influence turned the Vanguard into the icon that it is today. When Max Gordon died, Lorraine closed the club for one day, took over ownership and re-opened the very next day.

In 2007, Grodon wrote a memoir about her life at the Vanguard, “Alive at the Village Vanguard”. Here is a link to a 2007 NPR interview with her upon the publication of the book.

Gordon is an NEA Jazz Master, recognized for shepherding this magnificent club. Here is the video produced to honor Lorraine Gordon on the occasion of her induction into the NEA Jazz Masters.

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