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Sun, 10.15.1922

Lorraine Gordon, Jazz Music Advocate, born

Lorraine Gordon

*Lorraine Gordon was born on this date in 1922.  She was a white Jewish-American businesswoman and American jazz music advocate.  Born Lorraine Stein, she grew up in Newark, New Jersey. As a teenager, she was an ardent fan of jazz music.  In 1942 she married Alfred Lion, co-founder of Blue Note Records. In the 1940s, Gordon and Lion recorded the works of jazz artists such as the clarinetist Sidney Bechet and pianist Thelonious Monk.

In 1950 she married Max Gordon, owner of the Village Vanguard club in New York. Established in 1935, the club gained a reputation among jazz musicians in the late 1950s and became the place to record live performances. In the 1960s, as a member of the peace activist group Women Strike for Peace, Gordon rallied against nuclear weapons testing and the Vietnam War. In the 1980s, she worked at the Brooklyn Museum. Following her husband's death in 1989, Gordon assumed ownership and management of the Vanguard Club.  She continued the club's dedication to jazz music and maintained its reputation as a premier jazz club.  

In 2013 Gordon's contribution to jazz music was recognized by the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts, and she received the NEA Jazz Master Award for jazz advocacy.  Gordon's autobiographical memoir Alive at the Village Vanguard: My Life In and Out of Jazz Time was published in 2006. The book chronicles her lifelong involvement with jazz music.  The book received the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for excellence in music print publishing. Lorraine Gordon died on June 9, 2018.

10/15/1922 In her memoir, Gordon writes, "I didn't arrive at the Village Vanguard from out of the blue. I stuck to what I loved. That was my art. I'm not a musician; I'm not a singer; I'm not a painter; I'm not an actress. I'm none of those things. But throughout my life, I followed the course of the music that I loved."   

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