Last night I attended the reopening event of The Crypt Jazz Club, located below St George’s Cathedral on Wale Street in Cape Town. It is the only live jazz venue in the city centre, and is a manifestation of Cape Town’s reputation as a Jazz City, through its home-grown jazz talent and its annual Cape Town Jazz Festival.
I was invited to attend the relaunch event by Claire Robertson of Divine Intervention, the restaurant beverage design and supply company owned by Shaun Terry, having designed the beverage list for the restaurant, cocktail bar, and jazz club. Six years ago I attended the opening of The Crypt, which was established by pianist Derek Blaisse, who plays with the Cape Dutch Connection in Franschhoek. He was looking for a jazz venue in Cape Town, and he fell in love with it when it was shown to him.
Derk is stepping back, and a new team of owners, headed by Riaan du Plessis, Tamlin Martini, and Steve van Rooyen are the new owners. The Crypt was closed for a few months in winter for renovations, and reopened last night, fittingly with Derk and his Cape Dutch Connection band playing the music, being joined by Mike Rossi on saxophone and Wesley Ruston on bass.
I was fortunate to sit and chat with Tamlin during the evening, not having met her previously, but having seen and chatted to Riaan at Roca in the Franschhoek village, where Derk had played solo when I last went there, and he said he had seen me at La Parada Constantia Nek. Tamlin has a fashion design and retail background, and she and Riaan live in Franschhoek. They got to know Derk in the village, and as both Riaan and Tamlin love music, and Tamlin comes from a musical family, they decided to take over The Crypt.
While The Crypt still looks like I remember it from its original opening days, Tamlin told me that they wanted to restore The Crypt to its original glory, and to revitalise the great following it has had amongst local jazz lovers, as well as tourists. They are also looking to raise the standard of the jazz performed here, with different bands performing six nights a week. Shaun told me that on Monday the R150 entrance fee is reduced to R70, with an Open Mic The Crypt Jazz Jam session, in which jazz lovers and enthusiasts can bring an instrument, and join others on the stage and jam. I liked the jazz mood posters they have added to the walls, Tamlin saying that while jazz lovers can see the band from where they sit, the band never had anything to look at, So one poster is directly opposite the band stand.
While the food offering for last night’s relaunch event was pre-prepared and laid out on the tables, there will be a menu offering meals to enjoy whilst enjoying the jazz. I was surprised to bump into Surine van Niekerk, whose company The Deli Coffee Co will run the kitchen. Her company bought the ailing Melissa’s in the Waterfront, in Somerset West and in Hermanus, and ran the Kloof Street branch for a while. The offering last night was generously sized hamburgers, pâté uniquely served in a small cup with a slice of bread over it, wraps, and sweet treats like the Portuguese-style pasteis de natas.
The Menu includes oysters (R20 each); a Winelands platter of meats, cheeses and breads at R250 for two to share; Rump steak at R140; a fish of the day at R140; a selection of ‘gourmet burgers’, including beef, freshwater trout, and Banting: each at R130; Vegan coconut curry (R95); and a selection of desserts at R65, all very reasonably priced.
Derk spoke to the audience attending, proud that The Crypt, which had been close to dying, was rising as a Phoenix again. He welcomed Reverend Michael Weeder, landlord from the St Georges Cathedral, who celebrated his birthday yesterday and was sung to in celebration; and Mr Cape Town Jazz Festival Rashied Lombard. He thanked Steve van Rooyen for his vision, and for being one of the owners to take over The Crypt. Derk concluded by saying that jazz as well as The Crypt changed his life.
The Crypt Jazz Club, underneath St George’s Cathedral, 1 Wale Street, Cape Town. Tel 062 614 8731 www.cryptjazz.co.za Twitter : @crypt_jazz Instagram : @thecryptjazzclub Monday – Saturday 19h30 – 23h30.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein