The first stop on any jazz-lover’s pilgrimage to New York City should be The Village Vanguard. While other legendary venues have changed hands and locations a number of times, the Vanguard has remained in its original Greenwich location since opening in 1935. Originally conceived as a venue for sketch comedy and poetry, the Vanguard is run today by Lorraine Gordon, wife of the venue’s original proprietor, Max Gordon. Many jazz aficionados believe Ms. Gordon is largely responsible for the Vanguard’s legendary status and continued dedication to fantastic jazz.
The venue’s unique acoustics have made it the gold standard in live jazz recordings, hosting seminal sessions by the likes of Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Wynton Marsalis, Sonny Rollins, Keith Jarrett, and Brad Mehldau. Monday nights feature the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, a 35-year institution in NYC and a great introduction for the jazz newcomer.
Be forewarned: This audience isn’t there for lively conversation and background music, but for the opportunity to commune with the memory of the countless players who passed through the club’s doors, which lives on in the sheer unadulterated talent the Vanguard pulls in on a nightly basis. For popular acts, be sure to make reservations over the phone and get there on time, as seats are hard to come by and the club has a strict 15-minute grace period, after which your seats are given away.
Village Vanguard Information
- Public Transportation: Good (easily accessible via the 1, 2, and 3 subways at 14th Street and buses M8, M14, and M20)
- Handicapped Accessibility: No
- Performances/Programs: Two sets every evening at 9 and 11 p.m. and generally a third 12:30 a.m. set on Saturday nights. Generally, acts play five-night stays
- Ticket Prices: $30–$35 and up depending on the performers. Student discounts are offered Sunday–Thursday for the second set for $20 (which includes drink minimum). Valid student ID is required. Be sure to check with the club before to make sure the discount is valid for the evening’s performance.