The new album “Everything I Love” (Basho Records 5-2) pays homage to some of the composers that have influenced Nikki’s playing and created her own unique style. They include guitarist John Abercrombie, songwriters George and Ira Gershwin and Cole Porter. But it is her renditions of the work of the great Bill Evans, and the hugely admired John Taylor that demonstrate she is capable of handling the material of her mentors with as much confidence and sensitivity as they themselves, that make this album stand out.
The album also demonstrates her own talents as a composer with two compositions which were originally recorded on the album “Secret” (Basho Records SRCD 3-2).
That quartet featured the same line-up augmented with the masterful British altoist Martin Speake. They played two British tours to great acclaim in 2000 and 2002, and more recently the Nikki Iles trio have played in both Canada and the UK to very enthusiastic audiences. The empathy between Nikki and her collaborators is evident in both albums and despite their geographical separation they very much inhabit the same musical space.
NIKKI ILES (piano)
Word had been out in musician's circles about Nikki Iles since way before she collected the John Dankworth Award for outstanding Individual at the 1996 British Jazz Awards. By then, as a member of the Creative Jazz Orchestra, she had already shared stages with Kenny Wheeler, Mike Gibbs, Vince Mendoza and Anthony Braxton, as well as composing her celebrated Printmakers Suite for an eight-piece version of that same band. She is a member of quartets led by Tina May, Geoff Simkins and Stan Sulzmann and has worked with most major British Jazz musicians on a freelance basis. As a composer she has received many commissions including The London Sinfonietta (Ellington Centenary) and New Perspectives (celebrating the work of Barbara Hepworth). www.nikkiiles.co.uk
DUNCAN HOPKINS (double bass)
ANTHONY MICHELLI (drums)
"You'll struggle to find Nikki Iles in the jazz reference books, but the Bedfordshire-born pianist has been a discreetly eloquent presence on the UK scene since the 1990s - often as an accompanist, whose understated, Bill Evans-inflected phrasing would generally be devoted to coaxing expressiveness out of others, but at the same time leave you wanting to hear more of her. Iles recorded a number of albums after 1996 with saxophonists Stan Sulzmann and Martin Speake and singer Tina May, but this trio disc, under her leadership, represents the clearest opportunity yet to hear her musicality in full flow.
The context may be familiar, but the sharpness of the execution and the sense of purpose certainly aren't. Hear Iles's ringing, Paul Bley-like chords on her thundering original Fly's Dilemma, the rhythm section's urgent insistence under the title track, the pianist's mesmerising riff-dance on John Taylor's Ambleside Days, or the tender overlaying of harmonies and chord voicings on Bill Evans's Your Story. A formidable UK jazz presence rising to her full height" John Fordham, The Guardian 4 stars Feb 2004.