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Max Gordon

Max Gordon

jazz promoter
The basics
Date of birth Vilna Governorate, Russian Empire
Date of death May 11, 1989 New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Authority ISNI id VIAF id Library of congress id
The details

Max Gordon (12 March 1903 – 11 May 1989) was a jazz promoter who founded the Village Vanguard jazz club in New York City.

Born in Svir, Vilna Governorate (now in Myadzyel Raion, Belarus), in an area which belonged to Poland from 1921 to 1939, Gordon emigrated to the United States in 1908 and settled with his family in Portland, Oregon, where he later attended Reed College.

Defying his parents' wishes that he become a lawyer, he moved to New York and eventually opened the Vanguard in 1935. The Vanguard initially offered comedy and poetry, segueing into folk music and jazz in the 1950s before going all-jazz in 1957, hosting a who's who of jazz greats from the 1940s to the 1980s including John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk (an unknown his wife Lorraine discovered, whose debut at the Vanguard drew no customers), Sidney Bechet, Dinah Washington, Albert Ayler, Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis, and Henry Threadgill. He played a role in helping launch the careers of Barbra Streisand, Pearl Bailey, Woody Allen, Dick Gregory, Lenny Bruce, Irwin Corey, Woody Guthrie, and Lead Belly.

In 1942 he opened the Blue Angel in midtown Manhattan 1942. He and his wife Lorraine were frequently seen together at gala events.

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