Greg Lyons was born in Newcastle in the north-east of England to rather nomadic parents who arranged that he started roaming the planet at a very early age. By the time he left school he had lived in 4 separate locations in England, in India and finally in central Scotland where he developed his fascination with music and started his career playing bass in bands of various styles in the late 70s.
He moved to Hamburg at the age of 19 and became a hard-gigging bassist in bands playing the club scene, but soon became dissatisfied with his musical horizons and his determination to master the saxophone led him to enroll himself into Berklee College of Music (Boston USA) on that instrument where he spent a couple of years immersed in the stream of jazz education.
In London since the early ’80s, he worked his way into the club scene with several small bands under his leadership, while bringing his multi-instrumental talents to the cause of Grand Union with whom he toured in 1983 and ’84. The eclectic nature of their music led to an increasing interest in the music of other cultures – especially Brazil.
By the mid ’80s his own compositions had started to reflect his love of Latin music and he formed a quartet featuring Brazilian percussionist Bosco De Oliveira with Huw Warren on piano and Dudley Phillips on bass. With three prolific composers in the band, this became the forum for some strong creative development and the band gained something of a cult following in the UK and other parts of Europe.
He also developed a srong affinity for the Afro-Cuban side of things during this time in the band of London-based Colombian timbalero Roberto Pla, and had the opportunity to play with greats like Alfredo Rodriguez, Patato Valdes, and Bebo Valdez.
In 1993 in an effort to expand his horizons, he moved to South East Asia and began performing regularly in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. He was a founder member of the band Face First, who’s eponymously titled CD also featured and was produced by Eric Marienthal. His own bands – ranging in size from quartets up to 19-piece – have documented his development as a writer of great musical clarity, and though featured on many recordings for small productions, they are mostly at present out of production. He produced the CD Island To Island in 2002 which received considerable critical acclaim and has just completed Smoke Signals, a CD recorded in London with his Europe-based quintet.
He has led the 10-piece band Omniform since August 2007 performing his original compositions and arrangements regularly at Blu Jaz Cafe in Singapore. This band features some of the top jazz exponents in the region and has significantly developed his writing for larger ensembles.
He has been instrumental in the setting up of several jazz writing and performance courses and has lectured at various institutions such as the International College of Music and University Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore University and The International Saxophone Conference for Mahidol University in Bangkok. He currently teaches in Singapore at La Salle College of the Arts and his own jazz workshop Groove Works, while also running masterclasses and workshops throughout the Asian region.
Since the late ’80s he has also been a keen participant in the sport of Triathlon (swim/bike/run), and has developed into a fairly strong age-group contender. His greatest achievement apart from completing two Ironman events is winning his age group in the 2003 Powerman Malaysia.
Greg Lyons plays P.Mauriat Saxophones