John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com
Lorraine Gordon, backstage at the Village Vanguard.
Lorraine Gordon, backstage at the Village Vanguard. John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com
The clothing chain Uniqlo is wildly popular in New York City, the only place the Japanese brand has set up shop in the U.S. Now that it's poised to open up two more retail locations, Uniqlo has launched an online marketing campaign with what it is calling "Voices of New York," where prominent New Yorkers wear Uniqlo clothing and talk about their lives in New York, all on camera.
Along with actors, museum curators and even a former NPR host, jazz people are involved, of course. Esperanza Spalding, the Afro-wearing, Grammy-winning bassist/singer/composer, was a no-brainer. (You may recall Banana Republic tapped her for a similar project some years back.) Trombonist John Mosca, who leads the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and is a native New Yorker, was a far less obvious choice, but a good one.
And then there's Lorraine Gordon.
The 88-year-old is kind of what you think of when you think of old women living in New York. She's self-possessed, blunt and very clearly in charge. "I mean, I'm only 88," she tells the camera. "People live to 100-and-something — today, it's normal! I'm one of them! I guess. Unless I drop dead walking outta here [shrugs]."
Of course, she also runs the Village Vanguard, the famed jazz club. Anyone who knows her in that capacity might chuckle a bit seeing her in a clothing ad bedecked in a puffy down coat. But she talks mostly about operating the Vanguard. "I have so much fun!" she says. "I don't know what to do for a bad time. Show me something terrible — I don't have that." And she releases herself from the interview in a typically Gordonian fashion: "That's it. Not another word."
Anyhow, you can watch all the Voices of New York segments online. And as seasoned readers know, NPR Music and WBGO team up for a monthly video webcast from the Vanguard: npr.org/villagevanguard. This month, the Fabian Almazan trio hits with a string quartet. That's tomorrow, Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. ET, with a special pre-concert discussion at 7 p.m.
Finally: You may remember that Uniqlo also teamed with Blue Note Records to print a bunch of iconic album covers on t-shirts. Coincidentally, my colleague wore his Jackie McLean Right Now garment to work today. (This blogger didn't manage to swing through NYC to pick up any during the limited edition sale. If anyone can locate me a Dexter Gordon Gettin' Around in a gray medium, I would reward you handsomely.) Someone at that company likes jazz.