Lorraine Gordon—notable jazz advocate and owner of the historic New York City jazz club Village Vanguard—has died at the age of 95. Longtime club manager Jed Eisenman confirmed to NPR that Gordon had suffered complications following a stroke she had on Memorial Day. A lifelong lover of jazz, Gordon worked with her first husband—Blue Note Records co-founder Alfred Lion—to A&R the label’s 1940s-era releases. She is credited with discovering Thelonious Monk, introducing him to Lion and urging Vanguard owner (and second husband) Max Gordon to book the then-rising jazz pianist at the club.
When Max Gordon died in 1989, Lorraine took over full ownership of the Village Vanguard, which is the longest-running jazz club in New York City. Among the musicians who have played and recorded there are Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Betty Carter, and many more. Gordon’s memoir, Alive at the Village Vanguard: My Life In and Out of Jazz Time, was released in 2006, and the National Endowment for the Arts named her a NEA Jazz Master in 2013.
“What I’m saying is, I didn’t arrive at the Village Vanguard from out of the blue. I stuck to what I loved,” she wrote in the book. “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.”