60th birthday jazz party

Jazz saxophonist Pete Lyons who will be playing a concert at the Millenium Hall to celebrate his 60th birthday
Jazz saxophonist Pete Lyons who will be playing a concert at the Millenium Hall to celebrate his 60th birthday

SAX player Pete Lyons has lined up a phalanx of fellow jazzers to help him celebrate the year of his 60th birthday.

On Sunday in the Millennium Hall proceedings will begin in the afternoon with the performance of a suite of his own compositions performed by different combinations of local musicians and then in the evening there will be a concert by the Geoff Simkins Quartet.

Lyons has been an established part of the local and regional jazz scene for 35 years, playing saxophone with a wide range of local jazz musicians, running workshops and holding the post of treasurer of Sheffield Jazz for the past 20 years.

To celebrate his 60th year, he has written a suite of 19 brand new jazz compositions arranged arranged for his Sheffield based duo with pianist Jude Sacker, a septet featuring Henrik Linnemann on flute, Hannah Brady on alto sax, John Hulme (flugelhorn), Graham Jones (double bass), Jez Matthews (piano) and Johnny Hunter (drums)n and a quintet including some leading Manchester based players.

I chose to write music which references all the influences of jazz I have absorbed rather than any particular style,” he explains. “Rather than doing something self-consciously cutting-edge or progressive or supposedly accessible and easy to listen to, I wrote music that was in me.

“Having come up with the basic essence I than arranged if specifically for the ensembles.”

The suite will make up the afternoon from 3pm to 7pm and the event will be rounded off by a special visit to Sheffield from the Geoff Simkins Quartet with Nikki Iles on piano and Martin France on drums, all of whom are musicians with many years’ serious acclaim on the national jazz scene.

Originally from the West Midlands, Lyons came to Sheffield in 1977 to do a social work course at the then city polytechnic and followed a career in Sheffield City Council Community Development Unit before it was axed in 1999. After being made redundant jazz went from being a part-time pursuit to his main source of income, teaching adult amateur jazz enthusiasts at the Sheffield Jazz Workshop held at King Edward’s School and private lessons, while continuing to perform,

“I hope there’s something for everyone at my concert,” says Lyons. “I’ve been involved in jazz all my life and so this concert seemed the best way to celebrate the year of my 60th birthday.”

Ian Soutar