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 decided to switch to the saxophone and enrol himself into
Berklee College of Music in Boston USA, where he spent a couple of years immersing himself in the stream of jazz
In London since the early '80s, he worked his way into the club scene with bands like Dwarf Steps and a quintet he
co-led with Clark Tracey, while bringing his multi-instrumental talents to the cause of Grand Union with whom he
toured in 1983 and '84.
In the mid-80s he spent a year in the Canary Islands where he developed a passion for Latin music - in particular
that of Brazil - and upon returning to London became part of the Brazilian outfit Sambatucada of which he later
became musical director. By now his own composition 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 in the late
'80s 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 Colombian
timbalero Roberto Pla, and had the opportunity to play with greats like Alfredo Rodriguez, Patato Valdes, and Bebo
In 1993 in an effort to expand his horizons, he moved to South East Asia and began performing regularly in
Singapore and Kuala Lumpur whilst teaching at the International College of Music in Kuala Lumpur. During this
period his teaching and playing had a profound effect on a new generation of South East Asian jazz musicians.
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 featuring his quintet, and is currently working
on an album featuring a 10-piece band that should be ready by early 2006.
Those currently involved in his recordings and performances include drummers Lewis Pragasam (Malaysia), Nic
France (UK), bassists Dudley Phillips (UK), Christy Smith (USA) and Andy Peterson (Malaysia), pianists Jarmo
Savolainen, (Finland), Mei Sheum (Singapore), Michael Veerapen, Mac Chew (Malaysia) and Michael Stanton
(USA), percussionist Steve Thornton (USA), guitarists Randy Bernsen(USA) and Eugene Pao (Hong Kong),
singer Angelita Li (Hong Kong), and British trumpeter Damon Brown.
He has played and recorded with many other great musicians. These include artists such as: Toninho Horta, Billy
Cobham, Phil Perry, Terumasa Hino, Jeremy Monteiro, Asiabeat, Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers, Loose
Tubes, John Etheridge, Phil Manzanera, Nana Vasconcelos, Radio Futura, Sheila Majid, Lee Hom and Siti
He has been instrumental in the setting up of several jazz writing and performance courses and has lectured at
various institutions such as University Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore University and The International
Saxophone Conference for Mahidol University in Bangkok. He continues to be as involved as possible in education
and welcomes the chance to run masterclasses and workshops during his travels.
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.
Photograph by Suzanne Lee
Photograph by Suzanne Lee
Photograph by Laurent Cochet
Photograph by See Zisiang
Photograph by June Ho
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