New York's Village Vanguard may come closer than any other club to embodying the spirit of jazz. For nearly 30 years, the guardian of that spirit has been the Vanguard's formidable impresaria, Lorraine Gordon. Gordon, a jazz champion since her teen years and one of the music's female pioneers, died Saturday at the age of 95.
Harold Mabern has never had any hang-ups about not being the center of attention. "I get joy out of being an accompanist," the pianist affirms, likening himself to an offensive lineman on a football team. "When you can do something to make the soloist happy and proud," he says plainly, "you've done your job."
This week's Piano Jazz remembers Barbara Cook (Oct. 25, 1927 – Aug. 8, 2017), the Tony and Grammy Award-winning lyric soprano who was a favorite of audiences around the world. She was a star on Broadway as an ingénue and became a staple of the New York cabaret scene in the later years of her prolific career.