Newcastle Jazz Cafe fans’ bid to re-open venue

JAZZ lovers want to form a community co-operative in a bid to re-open Newcastle’s Jazz Cafe.

JAZZ lovers want to form a community co-operative in a bid to re-open Newcastle’s Jazz Cafe.

The cafe closed down with the death of owner Keith Crombie just before the New Year.

At his funeral on Monday, hundreds of mourners 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 Coop 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.

“We believe that with a sound business plan and the goodwill of the many people who admired the Jazz Cafe, the new co-operative will be able to attract the members and investment needed to succeed.

“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.”

Many Jazz Cafe devotees have welcomed the co-operative bid – still in its earliest stages – although some raised concerns that it was “inappropriate” so close to Mr Crombie’s death and said the spirit of the cafe had been “lost forever”.

If you are interested in joining the co-operative, you can email pinklanejazzcoop@gmail.com

 
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