When she first met Stan Sulzmann in 1994, award-winning jazz musician Nikki Iles described him as a “huge, towering man” who had the most “gorgeous sound” when he played. Now, more than 20 years on, the pair who forged an inspiring musical relationship, will be performing together at the Hawthorn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City for Herts Jazz Club.

Nikki, who lived in Kings Langley before moving back to Bedfordshire four years ago, says her father’s record collection was the backdrop to her love for jazz and music. “My family weren’t professional musicians,” she explains, “my father was a semi-pro drummer, but worked in the motor industry and my mother was a pianist. In fact, although my dad played in local jazz groups, I never saw him play.

“He mostly played in his youth. But he did used to play the piano to us and this is probably one of my first memories of music. My dad only played on the black notes.” Nikki, who’s father, who used played the piano whilst he was in the war, adds: “He used to show me, when I was a kid, how you can roll an orange along the black notes to get a pentatonic scale.”

The 52-year-old mother says she loves the creativity jazz allows her.

“With jazz, I think it’s the opportunity to create something in the moment,” she explains, “I’m also a composer and in a way being an improviser is the same thing – it’s composing in the moment.

“And the interaction with other musicians is very special and also a bit dangerous, which I like - as sometimes you take risks in the music, the nature of that is sometimes it comes off and it’s amazing and other times it doesn’t quite work. I like that, it’s exciting as you never know what you are going to do.”

Nikki, met Stan, who has been a prolific veteran of the UK jazz scene for more than 40 years, while teaching summer school in Wales.

“The beauty of being somewhere for a week in the same accommodation, you have time to go off to a classroom and play and I made some great musical relationships from there,” say says and claims that Stan has been a huge inspiration on her career and has helped her grow as a musician.

Since then, Nikki, who plays six instruments including the piano, saxophone and flute, has worked with Stan on his 1996 album Treasure Trove and their more recent release, Stardust, played in his big band and he has played in her band.

The British Jazz Award winner has gone on to work the London Jazz music scene, while also teaching at Middlesex University. She is now set to duet with Stan as well as go on a mini tour with his big band later this year.

Hawthorn Theatre, Welwyn Garden City on Sunday, January 10. Details: hertsjazz.co.uk, 0300 303 9620