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Vanished Venues: The Village Gate

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our series on concert halls and nightclubs from New York music history continues with a look at one of the city's great jazz temples: The Village Gate. We’ll talk with jazz historian and author Gary Giddins.

Courtesy Sharon Blythe/Remember The Village Gate Facebook Group.
The Village Gate was a nightclub in Greenwich Village, located at the corner of Thompson and Bleecker Street
Courtesy Albert Poland/Remember The Village Gate Facebook Group.
Art D'Lugoff (pictured on the right), opened the club in 1958, on the ground floor and basement of 158 Bleecker Street. With him in this photo is Albert Poland.
Courtesy Tom Marcello/ Remember The Village Gate Facebook Group
Over its 38 years, the club featured jazz greats, including Jon Faddis and Dizzy Gillespie, seen here in the 1970s.
Courtesy Sharon Blythe/Remember The Village Gate Facebook Group.
Sarah Vaughn was one of the many jazz greats who performed at The Village Gate.
Courtesy Raphael D'Lugoff/Remember The Village Gate Facebook Group.
Jay Leonhart and Herman Foster performing at the Gate.
Courtesy Raphael D'Lugoff/Remember The Village Gate Facebook Group.
Avi D'Lugoff, Abie Nathan, Miriam Makeba and Art D'Lugoff at The Village Gate.
Courtesy Sharon Blythe/Remember The Village Gate Facebook Group.
The Village Gate even had punk rock shows. The Heartbreakers performed in the summer of 1977
Courtesy Sharon Blythe/Remember The Village Gate Facebook Group.
A 1984 performance of Second City’s Orwell That Ends Well
Photo by Tiffany Camhi.
The Village Gate closed in 1993. The ground floor is now occupied by a CVS Pharmacy. In Spring 2008, part of the space was re-opened as a new performance venue - (Le) Poisson Rouge


Gary Giddins

Comments [12]

Marc from New York

I saw and heard Bill Evans, Teddy Wilson and Jaki Byard at the Top of the Gate. Also, I believe I saw Dave Brubeck pounding away there, but that may have been downstairs.

As for downstairs, I'll never forget Miles's groups there - the Wayne Shorter/Herbie/Tony Williams/Ron Carter as well as the group Miles had for a short time that featured Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett on electric keys with Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland, also with Wayne Shorter, I believe. I went every night whenever Miles was there in 1968-1969, which did impact my studies at Columbia at the time. It was thrilling beyond belief.

I also went back to attend Nina Simone's amazing return, at which she sang 'I Loves You Porgy' after avoiding it for so many years. That performance was terrific, but not nearly as momentous and raucous as the mid-1980s Irving Plaza concert Nina Simone gave upon one of her returns to the U.S., The house was packed to the rafters, and that too was one of the singularly most magical musical performances I've ever attended.

Does this sound like I'm waxing nostalgic? I still feel the same way when I attend a Sonny Rollins concert!

Oct. 21 2010 08:17 PM
Marycg from Manhattan

My husband and I went to the Village Gate
in the '60s to see the Clancy Brothers and
Tommy Makem. We were great fans and met them many times after at the Lions
Head. I remember sitting with Mary
Travers at the bar at the Gate. I also
met Art D'Lugoff and the Lions Head and
he was very pleasant. We loved the
Village Gate.

Oct. 21 2010 03:41 PM
Ash in Chelsea

While we are on this topic of vanished venues, let's not forget the following (jazz spots):

1. Slug's - on 3rd or 4th street on the Lower East Side in the 1960s

2. The Half Note - on Spring and Hudson in the 1960s

3. The Five Spot - On 3rd Ave and 8th St. in the 1960s

It was a lovely time to be a jazz lover in NYC. :-)

Oct. 21 2010 03:06 PM
Erle Grubb from Jackson Heights (Queens)

The Top of the Gate was certainly the place to go in the '60s and I always went to hear the Bill Evans Trio. Walking upstairs, the bar was ahead and to the right, as I remember, and the dining room area was on the left. You could order a sandwich and sit at a table for one or two sets and be transformed listening and watching. Eddie Gomez on bass and Bill's last drummer that I remember seeing there, Jack DeJohnette, were something to behold. Those moments there were like being in heaven.

Oct. 21 2010 02:35 PM
jps from Manhattan

Sorry I meant the gate of the Village Gate is located on THOMPSON street not MacDougal. I am becoming forgetful. Gee Must be all the drugs, rock and roll and umm.. what's the third ?

Oct. 21 2010 02:31 PM
Caroline Schimmel from Greenwich, CT

We too went to Jacques Brel. The exit was crowded, so we followed a different set of signs and ended up at a LOCKED gate at the street. When we complained, the owner got livid, and spewed curses, saying people were sneaking in that way. He was so full of himself. That was the beginning of the end of the VG!

Oct. 21 2010 02:24 PM
RLewis from the Bowery

I will always be proud that I got to see/hear Tito Puente there on a Monday, Salsa Meets Jazz night.

And great the the Penny Arcade sign is still up, like an ancient artifact.

Art's relative (daughter/neice?) who has now taken of the place seems to be doing the right thing. So, all hope is not lost, Gary.

Oct. 21 2010 02:24 PM
jps from GWVillage

I live in the village I was born here. I live on Sullivan St and I think the name Gate came from the gate on MacDougal Street that leads to the service entrance. It's a huge door.
Also I met Art and let's not forget that the village gate also introduced world music. They had one of the first Irish festivals and I remember that very well. We danced and played. It was the the first time I heard the uillean pipes. Real Irish music not "Danny Boy." I was there also for Dizzy Gellespies gigs with wonderful jazzmen.

Oct. 21 2010 02:21 PM
Richard from Village gate

I live in the building for the last ten years, a infamous sro for 100 years. the sign is still on the corner. I beleive The "Gate" reference is the fact that its the start of the village - one block from soho, etc

Oct. 21 2010 02:18 PM
Ash in Chelsea

While in college in Atlanta, Ga in the 1950s and 1960s, the Village Gate was well known to those of us interested in jazz. When I moved to NYC in 1963, I went there mainly to hear my favorite music maker Carmen McRae.

Today, I often pass that corner on my bike heading down to Arturo's on Houston and Thompson -- where one can not only get great oven pizza and other food, but where one can hear fine jazz with no cover or minimum.

Interesting enough, the sign "THE VILLAGE GATE" is still on the building even though there is other activity there now.

Oct. 21 2010 02:15 PM
Frank Grimaldi from East Village

I got to know the Village Gate long after it's hay day. But I did get to see Nina Simone there in the mid 80's, she did 5 long songs, made lots of references to being black listed, and ordered a man to stop smoking. You gotta'.love her. In the early 90's I attended the open mic that used to happen on the street patio before the Jazz Trio played at 10. I later became friends with one of the bartenders who got me into see Penny Arcade's BITCH!DYKE!FAGHAG!WHORE!, who says the Gate was only for Jazz.

Oct. 21 2010 02:09 PM

It would be nice if your titles led with the date of the piece. I had no idea from the title in the RSS feed that this is for next week. I cut off an NPR archived concert to listen to John and Gary. Sure, I can go back to the concert, but this is clumsy.

Oct. 14 2010 07:34 PM

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