The Jazz Session #597: Nikki Iles

Nikki Iles is a pianist, a professor of jazz at the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, and a composer. In some ways, I think of her as a British jazz gem, but that would do a disservice to the fact that she’s very much loved in other jazz communities around the globe. Her musical work in the UK has seen her become a leading figure in the British jazz tradition. She is known for her collaborations with vocalists Norma Winstone and Tina May, and has expanded her reputation as leader of the Nikki Iles Jazz Orchestra since the ensemble debuted at the 2018 EFG London Jazz Festival. She’s worked with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, the WDR Big Band, and led several groups, including The Printmakers comprising a who’s-who of British jazz. Most recently, she was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for ‘Services to Music’ and an Ivor Novello Jazz Ensemble Composition Prize. We chat about her foray into large ensemble writing, her take on British jazz identity, motherhood, and so much more.

Show Notes:
– High Lands (feat. Norma Winstone & The Printmakers)
– Wild Oak (for Geri Allen)
– Maybe September (feat. Tina May)
– Westerly (feat. Norma Winstone & The Printmakers)
– The Glide 
Nikki Iles profiled by John Fordham for London Jazz News

Theme music by The Respect Sextet
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Author: Jason Crane