Last year, shortly after Kachi and I had teamed up at fashion week and realised we made a good team, we braved the midday, political rally-induced traffic and headed from the mainland to Ikoyi in search of a gem we’d read about, heard about and were very eager to discover for ourselves.
There, nestled in a building on one of the busiest roads on the island, was The Jazzhole. When a place comes as highly recommended as the Jazzhole did; by the likes of award-winning author (and my Woman Crush Everyday) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Teju Cole in their globally acclaimed novels, you know we’re definitely checking it out.
So much more than just a store, the Jazzhole was an oasis from the hustle that lay just beyond its threshold. Whereas the bustle of Lagos with its maddening traffic and incessant heat can feel more than a bit stifling, the Jazzhole was like a cool drink, a breath of fresh air and a blast of air conditioning, all at once.
We walked past walls of music; great music, old, new, African, Western, artists we’d never heard of, different genres, an endless supply of music that seemed to good to be true until we found, wait for it, BOOKS! Yes, the Jazzhole stocks books! Fiction books, comic books, cook books, instruction manuals, music books, history books, artist directories and everything in between.
I thought Kachi’s eyes would pop out of the joy we were experiencing. Then we noticed the pockets of art; portraits of famous peoples , handcrafted things and little knick knacks that seemed to have been picked up along travels. I was making my way through all of Woody Allen’s movies at the time, so seeing his face among the portraits of old filmmakers really made my day.
What we didn’t realise at the time was that the Jazzhole is the gift that keeps giving, so we were surprised to find a nice little café section towards the back, with a lovely sitting area and a drum-kit and microphones all set up and ready for someone to rock out with them.
We contained ourselves long enough to speak to the owner of the establishment, the very distinguished and wise, Mr Tejuoso, who was so kind as to take time to speak to us about starting the Jazzhole Lagos, how it grew into what it was and the reason it was so important to him. He also spoke to us about Asa’s latest album, the music industry and our literature and music favourites from the continent.
Mr Tejuoso founded Jazzhole as an offshoot of Glendora, the legendary bookstore franchise founded by his mother. He started it in a time when a lot of expatriates were resident in Lagos and he wanted to provide them with a place to get international music here in Lagos. A music lover, and collector himself, Mr Tejuoso began collecting indigenous music which became increasingly hard to find as the years went on. Mr Tejuoso, through the extensive music archives of the Jazzhole has become much more than a collector or music retailer, he’s become a historian of African culture, fighting to preserve it for the coming generation through its music.
He regularly opens his doors to young musicians who wish to use the vintage music as a source of inspiration and research, helping to preserve what has come to be known as the Nigerian sound. Artists and writers are also welcome at the Jazzhole, as it provides a ready hub of inspiration in all forms and many do take advantage of this and come to work here. In addition, the Jazzhole often hosts international as well as local acts, for listening sessions and jazz evenings.
I could go on and on about the Jazzhole because it’s become one of my favourite places in Lagos, offering the best of everything I love; cake included, but I’d rather you go experience it yourself. You’ll be glad you did.
Photos edited with Vsco LV1 / levis , J5 / Minimalist , and S3/ Clean