In Memory of Alan Crumpton (Crumpy)

Suffolk lost a great character over Christmas. Alan Crumpton’s sudden death at the age of 74 has robbed  us of a much respected journalist and a man who did so much for the East Anglian jazz scene.

Photograph from the BBC Suffolk tribute

Words are difficult at these times but we give below a tribute by Donald Muir Chairman and Musical Directorof the Bures Music Festival, Music Director for Spencers Jazz and co presenter at the Jazznights gigs at Clare

Donald Muir at Jazznights in Clare, Suffolk

"It was a sad Sunday over Christmas when Roger Odell, drummer with Shakatak and instigator of the fortnightly Jazznights gigs at the Bell in Clare, rang to tell me of Alan’s death – and I still find it hard to credit that my old friend is gone. Put the word “Crumpton” in your spell-check and it invites you to “ignore” – impossible!

 I first met Alan Crumpton at one of the Friday night sessions of the Boxford Fleece Jazz Club and recall some amusing after hours conversations with a man with a comprehensive knowledge of the music and its players and singers. I was not to know that the banter and the chat masked the deep hurt of a husband who had recently lost his beloved wife Rosemary.

 Shortly afterwards I left for a holiday in Scotland, telling my colleagues at the Fleece that we forty and fifty somethings needed the appointment of a younger committee member to foster an interest in jazz amongst the teens and twenties.  Upon my return I found one Alan Crumpton, on the cusp of sixty, installed as our new publicity officer and partner in crime. I quickly concluded that my colleagues knew their man better than I did, as Alan made his mark with his boyish passion for jazz and its practitioners and a youthful enthusiasm for his new role.  Here was that younger committee member I was after – but now with an older profile!

 Years later, he offered me the chance to succeed him as musical manager of what became the Bures Music Festival and I have never been so flattered in my life. However his great gift to me was in encouraging me to speak and write – by which I mean not the two everyday activities but finding the courage to address a large festival crowd and contribute a concert review to an influential provincial newspaper.  Not so easy as it might first sound and never easy to write as well and with such perception as Alan.

Alan fom

This was his forte – to encourage with a gentle word and to give some direction.  That encouragement was always extended to the musicians and singers he liked both as players and personalities – saxophonists Karen Sharp and Alan Barnes, pianist Geoff Eales, guitarist John Etheridge and vocalists Jacqui Dankworth and Jamie Cullum are some that spring to mind – whilst Alan had a warm rapport with  the entertainers of a previous era of show business in such household names as Max Bygraves and Kathy Kirby.

 A sign of Alan’s approval would be his comment that an individual had “no side” – an old fashioned phrase these days very possibly but an expression to say that the person was without affectation and self importance.  There was never any side to Alan.

Guile, artfulness and malice were also entirely absent from a personality who attracted no enemies – if ever you laughed at Alan you quickly learned to laugh with him.

 Here was a man with a wicked sense of  humour who when telling a joke would often deviate wildly from the narrative and entirely miss the punch line – and yet leave an audience in fits.  At the Clare Bell one night we floated the idea of the publication of an Alan Crumpton Jokebook, perfect as a raffle prize.  The raffle winner might select another prize entirely, the runner up take one copy of the joke book whilst the third past the post would be saddled with two, ran our logic.

 Failings and flaws? Not many, although he would never have won a “Britain’s Best Dressed Man” competition and an appointment with his barber was often overdue. His largely tuneless whistling, perhaps – but now that his flat whistle is stilled, I find that I shall miss it  – and Alan – more than words can say."

As Alan used to say – What ever your taste in music – keep it live

On Sunday 1st August 2010 there will be a special Alan Crumpton Memorial Night. In a special joint venture between Jazznights and Ipswich Jazz Club we celebrate the life of the much-loved Alan Crumpton who sadly died at the end of 2009. As Alan was the MC at both clubs we present a "Jazznights at The Bell" evening at Ipswich featuring Allison Neale with the Jazznights Trio & Larraine Odell. Profits to the charity Diabetes UK

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