The award-winner jazz pianist, composer and educator Nikki Iles joined EVC back in 2018. So far, Nikki added two collections to our catalogue: Piano Tales a for Alice and Piano Tales for Peter Pan. Music in both books was inspired by the characters in the enchanting stories Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll and Peter Pan stories by by J. M. Barrie.
THE GUARDIAN (JOHN FORDHAM)
“A formidable UK jazz presence...”
“Iles is one of the most refreshing figures to have emerged in the UK scene in recent times, with a liquid sound and supple, obliquely resolved phrasing as an improviser”.
“The Heroine of British Jazz ...”
THE OBSERVER (DAVE GELLY)
‘Nikki Iles is a pianist of extraordinary imagination who thrives on fugitive melodies”
As a founder member of the hugely innovative Creative Jazz Orchestra in the early 90s, Nikki Iles came to prominence working with musicians such as Anthony Braxton, Vince Mendoza, Mark Anthony Turnage, Kenny Wheeler and Mike Gibbs. Mike subsequently booked her for one of her first recording dates with great American musicians, Steve Swallow and Bob Moses on the CD “By The Way” on AH HUM records.
For many years, Nikki served a lengthy apprenticeship in the North of England playing with the cream of British and American jazz such as Peter King, Iain Ballamy, Art Farmer, Scott Hamilton, Tim Garland and Jim Mullen. Many of these relationships were re-kindled later when Nikki finally made the move to London in 1998. Here she joined the groups and toured and recorded with innovative musicians such as Steve Arguelles, Stan Sulzmann and Norma Winstone. Several awards followed with the BT British Jazz Award and an IAJE Award in America for services to Jazz.
Although well known as a pianist, composition still remains a major part of her musical life. The breadth of Nikki’s artistic vision has led her to disregard the arbitrary boundaries of the jazz scene and most notably, commissions have included a collaboration with American dancer Mimi Cichanowicz, the UMO Jazz Orchestra in Finland, A Gentle Prayer - London Sinfonietta, Red Ellen - Tim Garlands, Carillion – The LPO’s Renga ensemble, and this year The Caged Bird from the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers. Nikki was honoured to have her piece commissioned by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra featured at the 2012 Proms (BBC TV).
Recently she has been particularly busy - she was awarded the prestigious Ivors Academy Gold Badge and Ivor Novello Award for exceptional contribution to the music. During the lockdown, she won The Seattle jazz composition prize and was a recipient of both The British Jazz and Parliamentary Jazz Awards and in the Queens New Years Honours list 2022, a British Empire Medal for services to music. An inspirational teacher, she was also awarded an Honorary RAM from The Royal Academy of Music and a Fellow of Birmingham Conservatoire for outstanding contributions to the music.
As a player she remains much in demand with over 30 recordings to her name. Recent work has taken her across the world as a member of the Julian Arguelles Octet, The Kenny Wheeler Big Band, Tina May, Tony Coe, Claire Martin and Norma Winstone. Her most recent recordings are - Hush with Americans, Rufus Reid and Jeff Williams. Mirrors with Kenny Wheeler and Norma Winstone, Lush Life with Stan Sulzmann and Dave Holland and her own group, The Printmakers Westerly. This year also marks a new chapter in her long and distinguished career with the formation of her new Jazz Orchestra. This new large ensemble music will be taking her across the world directing bands in Hungary, Germany, Prague, Ireland and Colorado, culminating in a post as artist in residence with the great NDR radio big band in Hamburg.
With a parallel career as a widely respected teacher in composition and arranging, Nikki is a Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, The Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Middlesex University. She also gives masterclasses around the world and has been a driving force behind the innovative Jazz syllabus at the ABRSM and continues to publish extensively with Oxford University Press and EVC Music.