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Alive at the Village Vanguard: My Life In and Out of Jazz Time Lorraine Gordon/Barry Singer Hardcover; 288 pages ISBN: 0634073990 Hal Leonard 2006
For anyone who has never had the edifying experience of listening to Village Vanguard proprietress Lorraine Gordon recounting tales from the legendary room's storied history while seated majestically at her corner desk in the cellar club's office/kitchen/dressing room, this book will serve as an entertaining introduction to one's of jazz' truly unique personalities. Those who have been there will immediately recognize the tone of the witty woman who has made her mark in the music business that has long been dominated by men.
In this breezy autobiographical memoir, the grand dame of club owners details her days as a lifelong jazz fan whose love of the music led her to succeed her late husband Max as the guiding spirit behind the most famous jazz room in the world - the culmination of an already adventurous "life in and out of jazz . Gordon tells of her early years as a teenaged record collector so enamored with jazz that it led to her first affair, a brief relationship with a disc jockey who introduced her to Blue Note Records founder Alfred Lion, her first true love. Gordon's recollections of her days working at the label with her first husband, particularly her warm memories of Thelonious Monk, are priceless.
While there may not be as many musical reminiscences from the Vanguard's golden age as inquisitive jazz scholars might hope for, the ones Gordon has chosen to share are thoroughly enjoyable. And the other aspects of her life - as a wife, mother, activist and generally liberated woman - are equally entertaining and educational. The book's fine photographs fashionably illustrate the tale of days well lived by a woman who is intelligent enough to know "that life is so beautiful when you're passionate about something and honest enough to tell the world that she knows "I am lucky.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.