Jazz, Swimming, Democracy In Action

As you may have read in the comments on the previous post, Jazz At The Crypt have been removed from the crypt. I don’t really know much about it — apparently there was an email sent out yesterday but I haven’t received one. I have to say that this is a grave blow; this was one of the few venues that attracted people from outside the area — I have a friend in Holloway Road who would frequently make the trip south to visit. I’ll update this post with more information when I get it.

Update: Since writing this post this morning, the matter has been cleared up. The Jazz at the Crypt is not ending, it’s just that the original promoters have moved on; they sent an email to their subscribers (which I’ve included at the foot of this post) which raised some alarm, but it’s all been put to rest now. There is still Jazz every Friday night — you can see what’s on at the Camberwell Crypt website. Now let’s get on with some real news.

The reopening of the Leisure Centre has been put back to February 2011, ‘following the recent inclusion of additional works’. I don’t know what those works are, but this project is now severely delayed; if it does reopen in February, that will be the end of a 15 month closure.

New stuff: the new cafe in Chumleigh Gardens officially opens this Saturday; there’ll be music, food samplers, and the chance to see the new plans for Burgess Park, as well as a workshop with the developers. Also, a new bar/cafe/gallery has opened on the Peckham Road (it’s SE15, but we’ll let it slide). It’s prosaically called the New Gallery, and there’s a brief review by Gay Camberwell.

Finally, we got a nice little mention in The Guardian (online) today. Thanks are due to every reader, author and commenter, because you make this blog what it is.

Update: Below is the full text of the email from Jazz Live.

Dear Jazz Live Fans

It is with great regret that we have to report to you that , after 15 years of successfully promoting jazz concerts, we have been sacked from the Crypt of St Giles Church by the church authorities and that the Jazzlive@theCrypt project no longer exists at St Giles Church. We have moved our jazz promoting operation to Le Petit Parisien Brasserie on Sundays where we will continue to promote high quality live jazz at accessible and affordable prices for you, along with the usual atmosphere and unbeatable vibe we are known for.

As you know the vicar of St Giles Church the Rev’d Nick George has installed new management at the Crypt led by Mr Mark Dodds of the Sun and Doves pub in Camberwell, with his associate Mr Steve Corbett as venue manager. Unfortunately the venue manager gave us one week’s notice to remove all our equipment from the venue and stop promoting jazz.

Please let us know (jazz@​looksouth.​net) what you think about this decision, whether you would like to know more about it or do anything about it. We will get back to you soon!

In the meantime the Jazz Live team and the Company and Registered Charity behind it, Jazz Umbrella, would like to thank all of you for visiting and supporting the club and our music at the Crypt of St Giles Church for the last 15 years, at what will go down in history as one of London’s legendary jazz clubs. Please support us in our new venue!

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

155 thoughts on “Jazz, Swimming, Democracy In Action”

  1. Perhaps with two jazz venues competing for attention, Camberwell will become a centre for London’s jazz scene. Where’s Mark to tell us his plans?

  2. Where to start? Camberwell’s rumour mill, as ever, doesn’t take long to get grinding the speculative spice. Some Kind of Blue Ltd, a company set up to run the venue, took over management of the crypt in July 2010 following Les Alden’s official retirement (Les is one of the founders) which he announced in early 2009 and, as many people clearly have not noticed:


    Here’s this month’s line up of marvellous musicianship: http://bit.ly/cuCKxm and here is the website: http://www.camberwellcrypt.com where you can sign up to our email invitation list.

    Live Jazz is central to the business going on and that is not going to change. The Crypt is being generally cleaned up, many improvements are being made to the operation and the venue is being made fit for purpose.

  3. Great news Mark — glad there’s still gonna be Jazz there (nice).

    Do you know if it’s possible to use/rent this space for private functions — eg for a birthday party on a Saturday? Or is it a Friday-only venue?

  4. The mention in the Guardian may have come around as a result of my actions — I emailed Dave Hill highlighting the conflict over the use of the former cinema as indicative of a wider London issue and directing him here as a source of information and debate

  5. I’ve been to Le PP jazz on Sun a few times. Tis good. While since I’ve been to the Crypt. That barmaid in Le PP is hot though, vraiment chaud mon dieu etc.

  6. Maybe there should be jazz at the Bingo Church. Duke Ellington began in Harlem — his was a big church, he employed the incomparable Charlie Parker, like God employing Jesus, which He did. Ellington and his squad went on to really be something.

    Something big has to happen following the death of Rio this week, but that event was big enough.

    Young men in flash cars — all that — noisy people. When you see a young man in a huge flash car — let’s say Wayne Rooney — it’s like — what?

    The hooded ones, the food chain. They are food chain. Fascist fodder!

  7. RE:Update: Since writing this post this morning, the matter has been cleared up. The Jazz at the Crypt is not ending, it’s just that the original promoters have moved on; they sent an email to their subscribers (which I’ve included at the foot of this post) which raised some alarm, but it’s all been put to rest now. There is still Jazz every Friday night — you can see what’s on at the Camberwell Crypt website. Now let’s get on with some real news.

    Its not great to see that such spin and whitewash is thriving and healthy on the camberwell blog. i have been going to the crypt for many years and have a huge respect for Jazz Live@the crypt who built up and ran the venue. (for 15 years i believe). The music has always been top notch, the atmosphere great and every time i went it was always packed. What has happened recently is beyond belief. JAZZLIVE @the crypt the aforementioned promoters didnt just move on, they were unceremoniously evicted, why?.

  8. I can assure you, Ben, no whitewash is intended; I’m giving out information based on what I know. When I first heard the news I understood that there would be no more jazz at the crypt; as I learned more, I realised it was an ownership / promotion issue, so I updated accordingly. The fact that there will still be jazz at the crypt on a Friday evening is of paramount importance.

    As for the rest of the issue, all I’ve heard so far are two people telling me there’s much more to it than I’ve said, but without giving me any details of what that could be. I’m more than happy to correct anything I’ve said here, but I have to base it on what I know.

  9. On a non-jazz note, thanks for your cycle suggestions. We cycled to Wandsworth and hopped onto the Wandle Trail, which was not as scenic as you’d have had me believe, but quite pleasant. We stopped at Morden Hall Park, which is National Trust, beautiful, and if going via tube, it’s a 3 minute walk from Morden. Nice cafe. Highly recommended. And then home via a city farm and a lovely little craft fair at Merton Abbey Mills. A very nice day out. Straight home from Colliers Wood up the cycle superhighway.

  10. Damn tourists. They ruin everything.

    Speaking of tourists and attractions, at my place of honest toil August was scarily quiet. And this weekend like a ghost town. I think we have a lot worse ‘recession’ to come now these clowns in government are slashing and burning in the name of fiscal responsibility. They think it’s right to make THE PEOPLE pay for the CRIMES of BANKERS while those responsible go back to paying themselves BILLIONS for being useless TWATS.

    I like a government whose ideology is half baked, not thought through, experimental and irrational, delivered in serious tones with sincere, august concern and furrowed brows, and is impossible to explain how it will be implemented and how it will, actually, work.

    “We’ve got this great idea, it’s called ‘Big Society’ and it’s all about being more efficient and better and more smart and cleverer about how we get things done and about how we spend money. We’ve got a new way of describing how it will happen and we call it ‘Place Based Budgeting’. We call it this because WE are not going to be the people who make the decisions about where and how the CUTS are made. No. Because we are democratically minded and believe in devolving power to the people who know best — that’s YOU the voters and the people at the grass roots of society, you know, the Jamie Olivers of the world, we’re going to let YOU make all the decisions and we’re going to go on holiday for the next four years because we’re just in government.”

    “This means we expect 30% MORE for 30% LESS… oh and it’s YOUR job to find out how to do it. You are close to where the money is spent so we think you are best qualified to figure out how to stop spending it without there being any consequences. We know this is not going to be easy but since it’s you who’s going to be doing it, we don’t actually give a fick about how it’s done or what the outcome will be. And yes people may be made homeless and yes some people may lose their jobs but we have to face reality. Someone has to pay for the mistakes of the previous government. AND, as we were not the previous government, we’re going to make sure it’s everyone but US and the BANKERS who pays. OK?’ Yah.

    “Oh and by the way, our children won’t be affected by the collapse of the new school bulding programme because we send them to Eton — you know — the place where we went to school. And Eton, because it is run responsibly and with entrepreneurial vision, Eton has never misspent its budget. That’s why we believe it’s right for all you people who are so crap at holding a job down or taking a decent view of your kid’s education and don’t even consider doing the best thing by sending them somewhere like Eton as part of the rights you have in parental choice — we’re making schools think hard and long about WHY they aren’t as good as the schools we went to and choose to send our kids to — so they can learn to be more efficient and better with less.”

    “Although it will be tough in the short term, it’ll be better for everyone in the long run. Mark our words”.

  11. Mark : Actually I have only been going to the crypt for the last 6 or 7yrs since moving to Camberwell. The 15 years I was referring to, was how long Jazzlive@ thecrypt had been running prior to your takeover and their subsequent removal/eviction.

    My insights, of course are limited, I love music and as a member of the public I have had many evenings at the crypt in the past listening to brilliant musicians and have recommended it to many friends. Recently though, I have witnessed a large amount of upset and consternation in what looks to me like a shoddy and underhand takeover of a successful venue.

    My respect for Jazzlive as the organisers, was for their integrity and rigour about jazz and other music, jazzlive@the crypt wasn’t about business and yet they ran a great club, the profits from which all went to the Church. The level of unpaid effort to build up and maintain a serious and good jazz venue at reasonable prices should have continued to be celebrated and encouraged, not treated so scornfully. This jazz venue only exists because of Jazzlive’s effort; all the audience loyalty, the clubs reputation and goodwill is a result entirely of their work, not yours.

    Its not really as you said ‘ basically business as usual’.
    What do you stand to gain?

  12. Rio McFarlane RIP.

    Maybe it’s good the Gala Bingo is taken over by a strong church. The urban culture is hopeless, literally. It is slavery to the dollar, to cheap brands and brain-deadening repetitive music with kiddie rhymes about wanting to be American but not understanding what that involves.

    People moan about the African churches, but they thrive. The British pastors are poor. No-one goes there.

    The African churches have drive. They have muscle. They are not nihilistic like the drug’n’cash gangstas who worship dollar and shiny bling and can’t sustain the simplest family.

    Where does jazz come from? It comes from places like Harlem — Ellington, Parker — where black people became supreme rather than dug their own graves.

    The white arts scene pales into significance, here. Our local arts centre is after all London, which is not that bad, come on.

    There are more important issues at the moment in Camberwell than silly boring art and where to put it.

  13. Ben Gatt.

    Nothing underhand has happened. From what you post it is evident that you are making gross assumptions and making mileage out them. I will not be drawn on this subject again…

    The venue continues to revolve around the performance of excellent live jazz on Friday nights, the same staff remain in tenure and there has been no disruption to service since 1 July when it became so managed.


  14. @Dagmar, I guess it is the rapid rise in the number of African churches in recent years that explains the dramatic fall in youth and black-on-black crime in Camberwell and Peckham over the same period… Oh, just a second…

    Correlation cannot prove causation, but the lack of any correlation pretty much debunks the myth that more Churches will solve violent crime.

    And to say London is our ‘local arts centre is london’ is absurd when we have young people who are afraid to leave their own postcode.

    The ‘gangster culture’ goes hand in hand with the ‘church culture’ as that is about the only alternative available in areas like this for those young men and women who feel alienated from the hypocrisy being preached from the pulpit.

    No one wants to shut down any churches, but let’s try investing in some alternative strategies for dealing with those big issues that concern us all.

  15. Yeah, to hell with the bankers and bonus soaked bosses. It stinks.

    On the other hand. I’m all up for some cuts.

    Britain will become a darker place wails the TUC. Yeah Brendan, only if some of your members lose their silly jobs and crackers pensions. Stick it you dinosaurs, I’m tired of paying for it.

  16. Seeing more and more of these scooter hoodies around in SE5, perhaps like the one who died the other week.

    The Crypt did work well. I hope the formula can be repeated. Its lowish entry price helped entice the non jazz hardcore there too, like me.

  17. Oh and another thing, I checked after someone mentioned it here. Yes indeedy, Noodels has indeed become Noodles! That’s a result isn’t it? When did that happen? They’ve still got it wrong on the smaller sign above the door though. Imbeclies.

  18. Well, you know, James, I agree with you and will use that slogan in pub situations to astonish fellow situationists.

    “Yes, but correlation cannot prove causation!”

    [Silence. Sound of Wayne Rooney being barracked on the telly.]

    There are pastors in this area who have a sort of ingredient X when dealing with the community. If God works, well, why not?

    The South Bank is a half decent arts centre, come on. But like you say, the territorial restrictions for some are hellish.

    Flash church car, flash gangsta car, you’re right. The car does not exactly say: “Stand on your own two feet,” it says grab.

    Rio was better on his two feet than most. Dulwich Hamlet wanted to postpone their last game in memoriam but weren’t allowed by the league.

    We need alternative strategies, yes, like leadership and justice.

  19. Phil G. Crypt entry is £7 as it was when we took on management, the range of drinks is as wide, served by the same staff, the food is the same, being made and served as before… and so on. Even the same people on the door.

    It’s gradually being cleared of lots of rubbish, that’s LOTS, and is being cleaned and improved. Long overdue electrical and plumbing reports have been done and improvements will be made to the services. An improved sound system is being installed and so on…

    These are all general management and maintenance essentials and will only improve the experience of the venue which musicians, customers, staff and the church as landlord encounter.

    Oh, and marketing of the venue has stepped up with listings being done now and there is a series of box ads in Jazz in London which I believe was not attended to previously.

    That’s better. My head’s come back. When I post on my laptop it’s been lost.

  20. Good stuff Mark. I always thought the promotion of it locally was crap. The website too.

    Then again, it was always busy…

  21. I was the (voluntary) Manager at The Crypt for 15 years and in partnership with Jazz Umbrella (a local registered charity)built it up to an international venue with a 1600+ mailing list. In the process I raised almost £200,000 for the church which was mostly put towards restoring the magnificent 1844 building above.
    I gave a year’s notice of retirement as I thought I had done my bit! My hope is that a financially sustainable business can be put in place which will ensure the future of live jazz. Also one which will continue to provide a good income stream for further restoration of the church. I might mention the heating system and the famous 1844 organ as outstanding needs.
    I am a member of the Church Council which has ultimate say in what happens at the Crypt.
    The Church Council has agreed that the present operators should run from July to the end of December 2010. During this time the council agreed there will be a tender process for interested parties to make business proposals for a three year lease. I know that Jazz Umbrella have previously submitted a proposal for a music and arts venue at the crypt with a very satisfactory projected income for the church. There may be other proposals arising from the tender process.
    The important thing to me is that the Crypt continues to provide an income stream for restoration of the Church, continues to project the Church as a valued contributor to the Camberwell Arts Scene, and proves a financially sustainable Music venue.
    Les Alden

  22. Agreed Phil G. Mark will no doubt raise the profile significantly. Already has on here..

    Commisserations Ben Gatt. Why not get your mates to start a rival night nearby? I’m sure Mark would relish the competition.

  23. Yes, a Route One solution to the question of churches and artses. Maybe the Bingo church can do something similar.

  24. Sad news — the newly opened ‘Art’s Bar’ above Funky Munky has now closed. According to Tracy who ran it, they were evicted by the landlord. Frustrating as they had started to build up some interesting events.

  25. Gay Camberwell

    Hopefully Mark D at The S&D can help Tracy ressurect Arts Bar…

    or indeed somebody else…

    The Cambria, The Tiger, Recreation Ground?

  26. Re: Jazz at the Crypt

    I’m just waiting for the chalkboard sign to pop up outside advertising movie nights and art shows in the crypt and a new higher entry fee.

    I’m all for giving the crypt its proper promotion (that old website was absolute sh*t to be sure) but I’m dubious of what may follow if taken too far. I sincerely hope it will not devolve into just another misguided money making venture and lose its unique spirit.

    Whoever is going to take on the promotion of this thing should be mindful of falling into that same old money trap of trying to be all things to all people and compromising the venue’s singular value=great affordable live jazz in a unique neighbourhood environment.

  27. Indeed, Rose. The phrase “arts centre” makes the heart sink. You picture all these water colours of south Devon harbours, showings of “Jules et Jim”, maybe a few poetry slams, stand-up comedy, black-and-white photographs of the natives.

  28. Am amused at your horror, Rose and Dagmar, over an ‘arts centre’, when said establishment sounds not dissimilar to the shared dream of a ‘Camberwell Village Hall’ most of us are petitioning for… presuming there was an extra room or two for use of community groups.

    From CVH website: “We understand that there is probably not enough demand to use the building as a cinema. Or a bingo hall. Or an arts centre. Nor a theatre. Nor a cafe. Nor artist studios. However, there is enough demand for a building that accommodates ALL of these things and more.”

    (I do of course agree that the Crypt is a unique jazz venue and should be preserved — one of Camberwell’s best assets and draws to socialise locally other than pubs, in my opinion, and I love taking people there)

  29. I finally saw Jules et Jim not so long back. Good film. “An inventive encyclopedia of the laguage of Cinema.”

    We went to a private party at the Crypt. A socialist punk rock band doing football chants. Not bad. The kids and teenagers loved it.

  30. Dagmar

    Sounds like you are doing the usual “Camberwell Shuffle”

    Always complaining but when somebody actually attempts to propose an alternative way of doing things you mock and say “What’s wrong with the way things are?”

    A lot actually… 🙁

  31. I was a regular of the Art’s Bar until they were evicted a couple of weeks ago. It was the best venue in Camberwell is being sorely missed.

    I was also a regular at the Crypt. I have been going since I moved to the area many years ago. From what I understand about the ongoings there, the eviction of Jazz Umbrella (from their club) is a similar situation to Art’s.

    Jazz Umbrella committed themselves to 15 YEARS of selfless dedication to create a very unique community venue in Camberwell that provided a warm and inviting atmosphere where jazz music could thrive. Now they have been kicked out. Nice.

    I guess another one bites the dust.

    And no one should be congratulating themselves about the this. It’s appalling that people that work hard to better our community keep on getting the raw end of the stick.

    Will there ever be an end to this social darwinism?

  32. We need a docking station for Boris Bikes.

    I think alongside the Green would make sense.

    Can you please arrange it Peter?

  33. Slow and steady wins the race.

    Slow bikes are preferable if you’re drunk, on holiday in a country that drives on the opposite side and not wearing a helmet.

  34. You should try the bikes in Amsterdam — they’re *really* slow. At least, it felt that way.

    Re: The Boris Bikes (actually Ken Bikes) — I’ll have a word with my people, see if we can’t get some in the next phase.

  35. Right Son!

    I am the company secretary of Jazz Umbrella Ltd, promoters at The Crypt of St Giles Church from 1995 until recently. There has indeed been a change of promoter at the venue, but this was achieved by ordering Jazz Umbrella to stop promoting jazz immediately and giving 7 days notice to remove all equipment and vacate.

    All live music (6 months worth) was also ordered cancelled and the only reason live jazz is continuing now at the Crypt is because Jazz Umbrella persuaded Mr Dodds’ new temporary management to honour existing bookings.

    Certainly not business as usual. Not much of a commitment to jazz. Peculiar treatment of good-natured and highly successful promoters. But probably not the end of the story either if the Church Tendering process mentioned by Les Alden goes ahead.

    Pete Watson

  36. Have looked at CVH website, Gay, Eusb. Will enthuse. Do not want to be a knackered volunteer, though.

    Social Darwinism excellent phrase. All the pubs gone — says it all, to cliche, pour clicher.

    Thing is about holding opinions, I wake up Pre-Cambrian but by tea time I’ve gone all Jurassic. Is anyone here consistent? How do you do it?

    Anyway, have got out me watercolour kit from several Christmases ago and am now working towards first show: “Gala Bingo” (also looks very like that automatic bog on the Green). “St Giles Church” (looks like copied tourist postcard of Big Ben). “To Absinthe Friends” (blurry interior of Hermits Cave on Friday night).

    Also, “Dagmar — talented Danish singer/songwriter”, a bit tarnished by now, some notes OK though. Sings of love and disappointment.

  37. Can we have a one man/woman show from Dagmar at the opening of Camberwell Village Hall. In fact, you could be the installation.

    Failing that, I hear the crypt has some free time…

  38. @Pete Watson: A note of FRIENDLY but serious caution. The statement you make above:

    “All live music (6 months worth) was also ordered cancelled and the only reason live jazz is continuing now at the Crypt is because Jazz Umbrella persuaded Mr Dodds’ new temporary management to honour existing bookings.”

    Is defamatory and libelous. Desist.

    You know very well that all forward bookings at the crypt were honoured by Some Kind of Blue Ltd as a matter of course. We contacted every band your outfit booked from July to October, explained the change of management situation and recontracted them to Some Kind of Blue Ltd.

    @everyone else with an understandable interest in this situation: I reiterate what I have said here already. The continuation of jazz promotion is central to ongoing business at the crypt.

    As far as I know there are no outstanding bookings from Pete Watson’s period of tenure and jazz promotion from November onwards is being continued under my management — i.e. as far as customers, staff, bands, jazz and future promotions are concerned it IS business as usual — by Some Kind of Blue Ltd.

  39. Panto.

    The Horniman’s Guardian yesterday had a piece about Lymington, a snoozy town just opposite the Isle of Wight where the burghers have seen off the arrival of a Spoons and an Argos. A pound shop was let in as long as its frontage looked like that of a gifte shoppe.

    Upon calm reflection, one can see that a Camberwell Village Hall would have may uses.

    An annual panto, to start with.


    The Railway Children.

    Tinie Tempah.


    Alabama 3.

    Basement Jaxx.

    Dire Straights tribute.

    Several pubfuls of artists round here could show.

    Jazz and poetry nights like in the early 1960s — there could be a smoke machine for those.

    Let it not be said that Camberwell, like Lymington, would say either “Oh, no, we don’t want them African church folk with their singin’!”, or, “Oh, no, we don’t want them beatniks with their French fags and funny ideas!”

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