by Joanne Butcher
Jan 17 2013
EFFORTS are being made to re-open Newcastle’s Jazz Cafe following the death of Keith Crombie.
The cafe closed following his death just before new year.
At his funeral on Monday, hundreds joined a New Orleans-style procession through the city’s streets
Now, regulars are coming together to try to carry on Mr Crombie’s vision for the jazz venue, which attracted performers from across the globe over its 20-year history.
The Pink Lane Jazz Co-op group on social networking site Facebook asks for members and investors to join a community-led bid to re-open the cafe.
The building has been closed for over a week since the landlord cancelled the lease.
“A group of local residents, jazz lovers, musicians, poets and others are forming a community co-operative with the aim of running Newcastle’s iconic Jazz Cafe, which closed following the untimely death of the proprietor Keith Crombie,” the group says.
“We plan to preserve the commitment to live jazz and poetry and the unique ambience of the venue established over the last 20 years.
“Our first objective is to negotiate with the landlord and any relevant authorities to re-open the Jazz Cafe as soon as possible.”
It was standing room only on Monday as Mr Crombie, nicknamed ‘The Jazz Man’, was laid to rest at St Thomas the Martyr Church in the Haymarket.
Musicians played a final farewell to the 74-year-old as they followed his coffin, in a horse-drawn carriage, from the Pink Lane cafe through the streets.
Mr Crombie had run the Jazz Cafe for more than two decades, turning it into a mecca for visiting performers and music aficionados.
He died on December 29 after being admitted to the city’s RVI with a lung infection on Boxing Day.
Last week, locks were changed at the venue and a possession notice appeared on the doors.
But landlord Mike Tilley, the founder and managing director of nearby Newcastle Arts Centre, said it did not spell the end of the cafe and welcomed moves to reinstate it as a jazz venue. He said the lease had been forfeited in order to secure the building.
Mr Tilley said: “In its current condition it cannot operate.
“Our aim would be to see a live jazz venue there again, as Keith put his life and soul into making the Jazz Cafe work.
“But it needs major investment.”