Sunday, 6 January 2013

Jazz Funeral for Keith Crombie...

New Orleans send off for 'Jazz Man' Keith Crombie

Coreena Ford
Sunday Sun
6 January 2012

NORTH jazz icon Keith Crombie will be given a New Orleans-style send off by his music mates.
Nicknamed “The Jazz Man”, Keith ran the Jazz Cafe in Newcastle, which has become one of the region’s best loved music venues and a mecca for visiting celebrities over the last 20 years.
But the popular figure passed away last Saturday, just days after falling ill.
The 74-year-old had been taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary with a lung infection on Boxing Day, but he lost his fight for life three days later, while he was surrounded by some of his close musical friends.
And those pals will give him a send off worthy of a jazz king next week, when he will be given a New Orleans-style funeral through the city where he became such a well known figure.
Early on Monday, January 14, Keith will leave the Jazz Cafe one last time and he will be taken by horse-drawn carriage through the city, accompanied by a marching band, to the Church Of Saint Thomas The Martyr, at the Haymarket.
Scores of his grieving friends and family, including many musicians and entertainment bosses, will follow his coffin as they snake through the city centre to pay their last respects.
Born in Seaham and raised in Newcastle, Keith built up the Jazz Cafe, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, into one of the region’s leading jazz haunts.
Keith, who leaves one sister and a god-daughter, picked up an ambition to run his own jazz bar in the 1960s when involved with Newcastle’s legendary Downbeat Club.
And over the last 22 years a fantastic list of performers with visiting bands and theatre groups have come to love to the Pink Lane venue, either to relax at the late-night cafe after performances elsewhere, or spontaneously soloing or jamming with local musicians.
Singer Lindsay Hannon, a regular Jazz Cafe performer who was at Keith’s bedside when he died with other loved ones, recalled many magical moments.
The 32-year-old, of Summerhill, Newcastle, who will be performing at the venue tonight in a special jamming session, said: “He would be secretly rather pleased at his funeral plans.
“So many amazing people have come there over the years – while I’ve been there I’ve met Harry Connick Jnr, actors like Robert Powell and Martin Freeman, who had a great time there, and Roger Lloyd who was Trigger in Only Fools and Horses.
“Russ Abbott came in too, and randomly got up and joined in. He played the drums.
“The place is legendary with visiting theatre groups.
“Keith was half belligerent, half hilarious and beneath the curmudgeonly exterior was a very generous man.”
Pal Lance Liddle, 74, of Hebburn, South Tyneside, who runs the jazz blog Bebop Spoken Here, said: “I’ve known of Keith since the 1960s but the last five years I knew him personally. He was a larger than life character, he spoke his mind and didn’t suffer fools gladly. But if he decided that he liked you, you were a friend for life.”

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