is a British saxophonist, composer and arranger. Currently based out of Singapore, he is becoming known to an ever-increasing network of listeners for a commitment to making original music of an eclectic nature combining elements of his whole musical evolution – which includes representations of jazz, classical, funk, rock, pop, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, avant-garde, folk and lots more.
This idea of “organic” composition/performance creates music that defies genre or classification but that communicates at many levels. It’s strength in communication is also it’s weakness in marketability in that it’s impossibvle to pigeon-hole. It is tied together by the insistence of groove and also by the ethos of jazz which puts the ultimate control in the spontaneity of the moment.
The CDs he has released feature mostly his smaller groups but he has written for and led groups of up to 19 members, and continues to lead his 10-piece group Omniform in their monthly residency at Blu Jaz Cafe in Singapore. He has just completed production of the CD Smoke Signals, recorded in London in July 2009 featuring his Europe-based quintet.
It is also a mission of his to teach what he has learned to young musicians so that they might find the true essence of their expression in music and grow with it their whole lives. He is a committed educator with extensive experience of under and post-graduate teaching and curriculum development.
Over the past decade he has operated mostly out of South East Asia. He has led bands involving most of the major jazz figures of the region, and appeared with many top Asian artists though he continues to record and tour in Europe. Much more on Greg Lyons can be found via his web site by clicking here…
We recorded 10 tunes in two days of live sessions on July 15 and 16 2009 at Livingston Studios in London. The group represented an auspicious meeting of awesome musicians that over the period of rehearsals and one gig developed an amazing chemistry and morphed my tunes into something representing this amazing new band by the time we hit the studio. The session was presided over by the great Gerry O’Riordan who also did the mix. Mastering is by Ben Turner at Finesplice in London. The CD was released 30th October 2009.
The band: Dudley Phillips on bass, Pierre De Bethmann on piano, John Parricelli on guitar, Nic France on drums.
The tunes we recorded were 9 originals and one re-interpretation: Elbow Room, I’ll Tell You Later, Full Circle, Smoke Signals, Built To Last, Lingua Franca, Blues For Obama, Fast Twitch, She’s Leaving Home and Get Real.
listen to Elbow Room – This tune was written a while back and has been in most of my groups’ repertoires since around 2005 but this is the first really definitive studio recording of it.
listen to Lingua Franca – Again from the 2009 CD. This time featuring the quintet which adds John Parricelli on guitar.
listen to Smoke Signals – The title track of the CD features the quartet of Greg on tenor with Pierre De Bethmann on rhodes, Dudley Phillips on bass and Nic France on drums.
CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)
Island to Island
Features Greg on tenor and soprano sax, with Mei Sheum on keyboards, Christy Smith on bass, Steve Thornton on percussion and Lewis Pragasam on drums.
Tracks are: Hermeto’s LunchBox, Summer Arrival, Out From The Shadows, Waltz For June, Suraya, Heart Of Stone, Island To Island, Child Of The Forest.
listen to Out From The Shadows – Recorded by a quintet live in the studio in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. String and synth overdubs were done by Mac Chew as well as some additional percussion by Alonso Gonzalez. The song was a finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the jazz category in 2008.
listen to Suraya – Originally from an idea based on some stuff I heard in London from South African musicians. I wrote this in Malaysia and it was titled by our percussionist Steve after his daughter who was just born at the time. It means “Ray Of Light”. Same quintet as above.
CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)
British saxophonist Greg Lyons
released “Island to Island” a creation that deserves a manner of comments. London City will remember Greg for his Latin-jazz fusion compositions of the 80’s but Lyon’s capacity to mix up ethnic Caribbean, Brazilian, blues, rock and jazz rhythms impress greatly and is known throughout the world. A fine improviser, Lyons has also mastered Asian rhythms. He performs with Toninho Horta, Nana Vasconcelos, Billy Cobham, John Etheridge, Alfredo Rodriguez, Patato Valdez, Loose Tubes, Grand Union, Radio Futura, Roberto Pla, Phil Manzanera, Terumasa Hino, Bebo Valdes, Eric Marienthal, Phil Perry among many others. In “Island to Island,” Greg Lyon introduces us to highly skilled Southeast Asian musicians. Mei Sheum is one of Singapore’s great jazz musicians. Sheum is a fine pianist who has shared the stage with Kit Chan, David Pomeranz, Keiko Lee, Francis Yip, William So, Andy Hui, Wynton Marsalis, Ernie Watts, Eric Marenthal, Jim McNeely, Mark Levine and Hal Galper.
The force of her piano statement is astonishing. Mei Sheum dares the improvisational territory with grace and professionalism. Sheum’s self-confidence is vital track after track. This lady grooves like hell and respects the traditional forms with a unique elegance. Percussionist Steve Thornton, a Brooklyn native who now lives in Malaysia, has a heart of gold and delights us with an exceptional ability with his persistent drums on “Island To Island” and the subliminal “Child of The Forest.” Bassist Christy Smith ties the band together with his lyrical combinations and joyful vocal expressions. Drummer Lewis Pragasam is recognized worldwide for his capacity to blend all kinds of cultural voices, also considered ‘one of the finest drummers in the world’ by Sabian Cymbals (Canada) and ‘the essence of the World Music combination of Southeast Asia and the West’ by Percussive Notes Magazine (USA). Lewis Pragasam imposes layers of rugged drums and wavering voices. The end result is a mixture of beats and free jazz with Latin-like percussions, all covered in enormous amounts of freedom with the whole serving as his setting.
“Island To Island” brings us to high combinations, an array of chords with tempestuous passages…Is this the reason why this album is worthy now and again? — Reviewed by: Dr. Ana Isabel Ordonez