There are certain North East institutions that are easily recognised: the Tyne Bridge, Newcastle Brown Ale, you get the idea.. but then there are others that are not well known to people who aren’t from up here. Keith Crombie, otherwise known as the Jazz Man is one of those figures. Being a Newcastle Uni grad, I remember Keith flyering on Kings Walk. He was one of those familiar faces that you’d see around town. An eccentric and somewhat mysterious figure. Some people assumed he was a tramp. For those of you who aren’t from up here, Keith was the owner of the iconic Jazz Cafe, priding himself in keeping the be-bop spirit alive in a hip-hop age. Sadly he passed away quite recently, and the more I read about him and his life, the more I really regret never visiting The Jazz Cafe. And the more I wanted to learn about the Jazz Man.
It seems I wasn’t the only one curious about this elusive gentleman, Abi Lewis, a documentary film maker got in touch with me the other week to tell me that she’s just finished making a documentary about his life and his beloved Jazz Cafe. The story of a club that stood as a disheveled and cluttered monument to a bygone era. A place that welcomed anyone who loved good music. Abi said: “I was driven to make the documentary, The Jazz Man, as like Keith himself, the jazz cafe was becoming old and worn and my gut feeling told me it was time someone documented Keith and the history of the venue before it was too late. Keith had, in the last few years been up against many challenging factors that had affected his business and home; later drinking licenses, no smoking policies, a bad economy and Keith’s own stubbornness, which was part of his charm. I wanted to capture the venue for posterity and all that it means to the people who regularly go there.”
I can’t wait to see it. Keep your eye on The Jazz Man Documentary’s Facebook page for more information.