Over the last few years Bedfordshire born Nikki Iles has progressed into the front rank of British jazz musicians. From a musical family, she first became aware of jazz through her father's record collection, and began playing the harmonica and clarinet at her primary school. At eleven she won a Junior Exhibitioner's Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, studying piano and clarinet, and was soon a member of the Bedfordshire Youth Jazz Orchestra. It was at this time that the piano took over as Nikki's principal instrument.
During this period her involvement with jazz was deepening, prompting the decision to study at The Leeds College of Music between 1981-84 and eventually she settled in Yorkshire before finally moving back to London in September 1998.
The first platform for her own composing was the group Emanon, led by trumpeter Richard Iles, which also included the guitarist Mike Walker and saxophonist Iain Dixon. The meeting of these kindred spirits at this time was extremely significant for all of them. In addition to Emanon, they were all members of the Creative Jazz Orchestra, working with Vince Mendoza, Anthony Braxton, Mike Gibbs, Kenny Wheeler and Mark Anthony Turnage. Nikki also began playing with several London based bands including the Steve Arguelles group, Mick Hutton's Straight Face, Stan Sulzmann's Quartet and Tina May. Throughout this time up north Nikki also maintained an important musical relationship with the bass-player Steve Berry which beginning as a trio with Sheffield drummer, Pete Fairclough.