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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Film Review: The Geordie Jazzman

The late Keith Crombie was very much his own man - you loved him or you hated him. I loved him, as did 99% of the audience at a press showing of Abi Lewis' amazingly perspective take on a character who was, without argument, the most charismatic of any non-playing jazz person in the north east - ever! The applause that followed the credits, proof of how well Abi's film captured her subject.
Based on a series of interviews with Crombie - acquaintances refer to him as Keith but, to close friends and bitter enemies, he was 'Crombie' - we delve into the man and try to discover what made him tick.
Music meant so much to him whether it be jazz, early rock and roll or rhythm and blues.  The film captures all this and more. His encyclopaedic knowledge, helped by a collection of books that rivalled the average library, enabled him to hold his ground on just about any subject. I recall one Sunday afternoon, when things were quiet in The Caff, after discovering I lived in Hebburn, he produced a host of info on the history of shipbuilding on the Tyne before switching to Stan Laurel who, he told me, once appeared on stage in Jarrow!
Throughout the film, similar quirky moments are revealed - too many to mention here - suffice to say the audience laughed along.
Eric Burdon had his own memories of Pink Lane and there were clips of more recent gigs from the old days.
Don Forbes and Mark Robertson, as one-time resident musicians at The Caff, provided more insight.
However, words can only paint a small picture. When it's at a cinema near you, on DVD or online this is one film you mustn't miss - if you ever went to the Jazz Café who might even find yourself caught on camera.
After the deserved applause - we should have been standing - Abi Lewis, Eric Burdon and two others whose names, embarrassingly escape me took part in a short forum,
Down in the bar, Pete Gilligan, Paul Grainger, Gypsy Dave Smith, Lindsay Hannon and Don Forbes provided the music - there were others waiting in the wings - but the number 27 bus was already approaching the Tyne Bridge so I had to bid adieu to my best ever film premiere (it was also my first) but, even if I'd been to every one since Gone with the Wind this would still rate pretty high. More importantly, it was an emotional tribute to a Tyneside Icon.
He fought the law and the law won - or did it?
Photos.
Lance.

1 comment :

Unknown said...

It's wonderful that Keith Crombie should be remembered rather than disappear into oblivion. Throughout Newcastle's history characters such as Bobby Shaftoe, Bessie Surtees and John Marley have earned immortality. In modern times it's more difficult to achieve that level of celebrity; nowadays most of the city's local heroes have tended to be footballers. However, it's fair to say that Keith Crombie merits that status and I like to think that this film will be the beginning rather than the end. There are some like myself, I can think of Sheena Conroy and Dave Ismay, who, fifty years ago, considered ourselves to be among his good friends. Nevertheless, we were considerably younger and always called him Keith out of authentic respect and affection rather than the curt, Crombie. I'm sure there are many who have favourite memories and anecdotes; my own involves the time he saved me from a good kicking by using the starting handle from his jeep as a weapon of mass destruction. Keith had a good intellect and many fine qualities and I look forward to seeing the film.

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