A Brief and Colorful History of the Village Vanguard


New York jazz fans learn early in their initiation about the 123-person-capacity Greenwich Village basement known as the Village Vanguard. It's the most famous venue in the history of the music — the one that's hosted the most live recordings, booked the greatest musicians, and, more than any other room (and in its very name), embodied the creative tension between history and innovation that sparks the best jazz. This week, the Vanguard celebrates its 75th birthday, and we've decided to honor the club by looking back at some of the moments that have defined its history, from the discovery of a space with "two johns, two exits," and a distance "two hundred feet away from a church or synagogue or school," to the legendary (and sometimes violent) performances of Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, and Charles Mingus that spread its sound across the globe.