Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Village Vanguard at Lincoln Triangle

“After seventy-two years you’d better have a reputation for something,” Lorraine Gordon said of her club, the Village Vanguard, at the Lincoln Triangle B&N last night. The event was an interview and Q&A with Gordon moderated by Dan Morgenstern to promote her recent memoir Alive at the Village Vanguard (review here).

Gordon’s late husband Max opened the Vanguard in early 1935 and it has been in its present location since December of that year. Lorrraine Gordon took over the club’s management after his death, beginning with a stand by the Tommy Flanagan Trio on May 23, 1989. However, Gordon had always had a passion for jazz, and some of her fondest remembrances in her book and at B&N last night were of the great trumpeter Jabbo Smith.

As a substantial value-added bonus pianist Cedar Walton, a Vanguard regular fresh off a plane from Japan, also played solo, warming up the audience before Gordon came out with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and playing a half hour set afterwards that started with “Sweet Lorraine.”

Unfortunately, the Q&A session demonstrated the perils of audience participation. One rather upset woman felt the need to defend Benny Goodman’s honor based on her misreading of Alive. Gordon assured her: “I was madly in love with him.” Another audience member actually interrupted her mid-anecdote so he could ask a question before he had to leave. Could we show a little etiquette, please? Of course, Gordon dealt with him easily—she has been running a night club for eighteen years, and it is a great place to hear jazz. The acoustics are perfect and the vibe is legit.

It was impressive for a book event. (Believe me, I’ve been to plenty.) Look for a B&N event with Larry Coryell from the same publisher sometime in September.