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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Tyneside Cinema: The Geordie Jazzman - a film by Abi Lewis.

(Review by Lance).
You wait a long time for a legend then two come along almost at once. Thursday night, at Washington Arts Centre, The Desert Queen told the story of Gertrude Bell. A lady who defied convention to help make the Arab world a better place.
The Geordie Jazzman told the story of Keith Crombie and the Jazz Café, Newcastle. A gentleman who defied convention to help make the northeast a better place - at least music-wise. Whether either one of them succeeded is debatable. The middle-east is in disarray and jazz has no shortage of warring tribes either.
This was the second time I'd seen the film and, as one of the pundits said afterward, "I picked up on many of the nuances I missed the first time around".
Me too. The man was such an enigma.
Beneath the public facade was a person of unique intellect. Like Lewis Carroll's walrus, he could talk of many things and not just shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings, although I'm sure he'd have opinions on all of those items.
Abi Lewis captured the essence of her subject, warts and all. An opinionated man, his views were strong. and it was irrelevant to him whether you agreed or disagreed. It didn't matter if you fell into the latter category, if he liked you he liked you and vice-versa.
The full house (there's another screening on August 18), five years after his death, was a testimony to the man's charisma as was the New Orleans style funeral parade through rhe streets of Newcastle behind the horse-drawn hearse, the band and the mourners.
There may have been a dry eye in the house but, if there was, it wasn't mine.
Chapeau Abi Lewis.
Bravo Gypsy Dave Smith for his solo performance. Singing and playing the blues as he did for many years at the Jazz Café.
Bon Voyage Keith.
The panel discussion afterward, hosted by film historian Chris Phipps, provided further insight into the man and the process of putting it [the film] altogether.
I missed the Q & A session but enjoyed hanging out afterward with Jazz Café society both ancient and modern whilst listening to, among others, Lindsay Hannon (vocals); Mark Williams (guitar); Paul Grainger (bass) and Mark Robertson (drums). All appeared at various points during the film with Mark and Don Forbes (trumpet) playing a prominent role in the narration.
Never did the song There Will Never be Another You have greater relevance.
Lance.

4 comments :

John Hallam (on F/b) said...

Pity I couldn't make it. The Dick Straughan Band played the first night at the cafe. We arrived early to find the place shut. Then he arrived and asked us to help setting it out. What a state it was in. We almost spent more time moving chairs etc than playing!

John Hallam (on F/b) said...

He used to have a "junktique" shop on the opposite corner to the cafe. I called in occasionally for a look and a natter. One day an anorak called in and was minutely examining the model railway stuff. He kept pointing out all the defects and Keith was getting fed up. Eventually, he snatched one out of the customer's hand, smashed it on the counter and said something on the lines of " I don't suppose you want this anymore?"
That was Keith!

Patti Durham (on F/b) said...

It was an excellent tribute to the man and the venue ..... but I thought it a great shame that some of the folk in the Q and A session afterwards said they'd never set foot in The Jazz Cafe as it is now - out of principle, or what? They're missing out on some fabulous jazz!

Hugh said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Agree with Patti (above) regarding the comments in the Q and A. I actually had never set foot in the Jazz Cafe as it was (during Crombie's time) - I mentioned this after the film to one of those attending who commented: you didn't miss much, it was a sh*t hole!

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