b. 16 May 1963, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, England. While still at primary school, Iles played harmonica and clarinet and at the age of 11 she won a Junior Exhibitioner’s Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music where she studied piano and clarinet. She also joined the Bedfordshire Youth Jazz Orchestra, at which time she decided upon the piano as her principal instrument. In 1981, she went to the Leeds College of Music and on graduating three years later she settled in Yorkshire. She joined the group Emanon, led by trumpeter Richard Iles, to whom she was married at the time, and it was here that she had the opportunity to perform her own compositions. Also in this band were guitarist Mike Walker and saxophonist Iain Dixon and all were members of the Creative Jazz Orchestra. This led to associations with Anthony Braxton, Mike Gibbs, Kenny Wheeler and others. Iles also played with several London-based bands including those led by Steve Argüelles, Mick Hutton, and in duo with Stan Sulzmann. Iles commuted frequently between London and the north of England, becoming an in-demand accompanist to touring British and American musicians, among them Iain Ballamy, Teddy Edwards, Art Farmer, Scott Hamilton, Peter King, Dick Morrissey and Jim Mullen.
In 1996, Iles won the John Dankworth Special Award at the BT British Jazz Awards and over the course of the next few years recorded in duo with Martin Speake (The Tan Tien), and Tina May (Change Of Sky). The endless commuting came to an abrupt stop one night when, after a gig, Iles had a serious car accident. This prompted the decision to make London her base. Iles had taught at various important establishments, including York University, Leeds College of Music, the Guildhall School of Music, and she now took a post as a senior lecturer at Middlesex University. She has also taught in Bulgaria, Netherlands, France and Finland, and at summer schools in England, France and Wales. Among her commissioned compositions have been the ‘Printmakers Suite’ for the Creative Jazz Orchestra, ‘In All My Holy Mountain’, with poet Roger Garfitt, for New Perspectives, and in 1999 the London Sinfonietta Ellington Celebrations.
In addition to performing, composing and teaching, Iles has been a member of a team at The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music engaged in the development of a new series of graded examinations for jazz horns that was launched in June 2003. Among her performing credits in the late 90s and early 00s have been dates, tours and recordings with Julian Argüelles, the Perfect Houseplants, Wheeler and Sulzmann, Tony Coe, Mark Lockheart, Dick Walter, Geoff Simkins, and the Anglo-Canadian Project. Enthusiastic and knowledgeable, technically assured and innovative, by the early 00s Iles had become an important presence on the UK jazz scene.