Derk was born in Amsterdam, and is a self-taught pianist and jazz lover. He is well-known in Franschhoek, having relocated there in 1995.
In 2000 he started the National Cheese Festival in South Africa, and together with his late wife Charlotte Daneel, opened La Fromagerie Restaurant at La Grange in Franschhoek.
The restaurant became famous for both its Cheese Platters, and their weekly event, "JAZZ ON FRIDAYS", which featured some of the Cape’s top jazz musicians, including his own jazz band, Cape Dutch Connection.
Derk’s love of jazz and good food, was what stimulated the idea of live Jazz venue in Cape Town.
Derk’s dream was shared by the Dean of the St George’s Cathedral, Michael Weeder, a jazz enthusiast himself, who has a vision for Cape Town’s Cathedral as “the people’s church”. The idea of The Crypt Jazz Restaurant was formed as an opportunity to reach out to diverse communities through the universal language of jazz.
The Crypt Jazz Restaurant first opened its doors on the 19th of April 2013, to create both a platform for local jazz musicians as well as a home for all jazz lovers.
The Memory and Witness Centre forms an intrinsic part of the Crypt and seeks to be an inspiring space for reflection, dialogue, hope and healing, with a social justice forum where humanity in its fullness is celebrated.
The Glimpsing Hope March for Peace photographic exhibition captures the excitement, hope and heartbeat of Cape Town as well as several marches around South Africa during September/ October 1989. The exhibition covers the 1980s resistance against apartheid. Many of the photographs featured in the exhibition were taken by Rashid Lombard, photographer and Jazz lover himself, who till today, still frequents The Crypt.
The Crypt Jazz is truly a unique setting, based literally in the crypt of an old Cathedral, and carries great significance. Because Cathedrals, like the Church at large, exist also for those who are not members, it strives, consciously, to be a place of hope and healing where the pilgrim, the visitor, the curious may – in varying degrees - feel “this is home!” Isn't it apt then that The Crypt Jazz be known as the "Home of Jazz"
Now under new ownership/management, but still operating under the guidance and inspiration of Derk Blaisse and Michael Weeder, The Crypt continues to support local jazz musicians and offer Capetonian’s and tourists the "premier LIVE Jazz Experience" in Cape Town.
Revived by owner / partner Riaan du Plessis, the refurbishment will eventually also boast a new space for a lounge / cocktail bar as well as a wine tasting area, also providing a unique venue for private functions.
The birth of The CRYPT Jazz Restaurant was the realisation of a dream and collaboration between Derk Blaisse & the Dean of St George’s Cathedral, Michael Weeder.