Jumoké Fashola talks about Jazz Verse Jukebox’s return to Hoxton Hall

Jazz Verse Jukebox. Picture: Sharron Wallace.

Jazz Verse Jukebox. Picture: Sharron Wallace. - Credit: Archant

Intertwining music and poetry, Jazz Verse Jukebox has a strong track record of pushing musical boundaries.

Intertwining music and poetry, Jazz Verse Jukebox has a strong track record of pushing musical boundaries.

Although only in its second season at Hoxton Hall the evening, founded by Jumoké Fashola, is in its seventh year after beginning life upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s.

“My dream was always to have some sort of salon where artists could get together and share work,” says Fashola.

“The concept was very much inspired by the Harlem Renaissance. And I mentioned it in conversation with the managing director of Ronnie Scott’s and it was suggested that we give it a try.

“We started upstairs and I’d bring the cushions from home. The evening was a combination of poetry, improvised music and open mic slots.”

The change in Ronnie Scott’s Sunday night line-up early this year left Fashola facing the decision about whether to relocate.

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It was a friend from her zumba class who suggested moving the event to Hoxton Hall.

“Straight away it felt like home. I love its history because in the 1800s it was closed for louche behaviour – that really appealed to the jazz artist in me.

“We set it up with a jazz cabaret style: people come, they sit, they can get involved and there are still open mic slots,” says Fashola.

The first season at Hoxton Hall was incredibly successful, not only retaining its old crowd, but engaging with new members in the local area.

“A lot of local people head to the event. They may not have known about Hoxton Hall before, but Jazz Verse Jukebox is somewhere you can come and meet new people, so it really helps individuals connect with one another.”

According to Fashola, maintaining the informal atmosphere of the event was essential to making the transfer so successful. Despite this, she has seen a few minor changes.

“It’s a bigger sound now because it is in a theatre and the band have a bit more time to express themselves.

“We’re becoming more improvisational and I like that idea of people exploring words. It is really crucial to what we do.”

Jazz Verse Jukebox runs on September 30, October 28 and December 2 at Hoxton Hall.