Geordie Jazz Man

WINNER Best Factual Prononduction (non-broadcast, Royal Television Society awards (North East and Borders).

Until his death in 2012, Keith Crombie was the internationally-renowned Geordie Jazz Man – presiding over Newcastle’s long-standing Jazz Café.

A contrary, mysterious figure who spent decades refusing to bow to musical tides, Keith’s story echoes that of UK jazz, intersecting with the scene’s growth in the UK in the 60s, and with some of the world’s most renowned and celebrated figures.

A mystery to many of his patrons, Keith was an epicentre of creativity in Newcastle. His closest friends and confidantes included local, national and internationally renowned musicians and thespians – with the Jazz Café the pride of the city’s live music scene.

But what about the man behind the mystery? Who was he? How did he get started, and where did he come from – and were the stories about him heading the Kray twins off at Newcastle Central Station before their planned takeover of the city even true?

Filmmaker Abi Lewis has created a fitting tribute to an idiosyncratic and inspirational counterculture figure. Digging beneath the tough façade and the legends Abi uncovers the true story of a passionate and inspiring grassroots stalwart of the UK independent music scene.

The film features a range of famous faces, including Eric Burdon of The Animals, Harry Connick Jr and jazz legend Wynton Marsalis.

Director’s Statement

Well known internationally as Geordie Jazz Man, Keith Crombie was a mystery to many of his Jazz Cafe patrons in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, and, like King Canute, refused to bow to the changing musical tides or even the aging process.

A man who would refuse you entry on a whim, a hard man feared from his past though a lover of women – he was the epicentre of a band of similar brothers, musicians, thespians, and alcoholics – the pride of Newcastle Jazz from the 1950’s to now.

Aside from running an eccentric battered Jazz club, Keith’s past included going to school with two of the Shadows, a brief career as a getaway driver, dealings with the Krays and choosing to book the Rolling Stones over the Beatles.

For decades he refused to be filmed, granting me access because I’m his goddaughter. This film celebrates the man, the Jazz movement but mainly a never say die contrary spirit that Keith Crombie took to his grave.

I was driven to make the documentary GEORDIE JAZZ MAN as, like Keith himself, the jazz cafe was becoming old and worn and my gut feeling told me it was time someone documented Keith and the history of the venue before it was too late.

Keith had always been part of my life; on the day I was born he captured the first-ever pictures taken of my family, and me. Years later I would film his final interview weeks prior to his death.

Since his sudden passing in late 2012 his story has become ever so more poignant and this film is intended as a real tribute to Keith and all he stood for.

Characters like Keith’s are an anomaly, an endangered species that need to be remembered and documented.
Abi Lewis, Director

Released in the UK summer 2018

  • Director: Abi Lewis
  • Year: 2016
  • Duration: 52 minutes
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Production company: Film Agogo

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