Nimmons, Philip Rista
Philip Rista Nimmons, "Phil", jazz musician, music educator (b at Kamloops, BC 3 June 1923). Phil Nimmons began his career in Vancouver as a jazz clarinetist in dance bands and on CBC radio during the 1940s. After classical studies at the Juilliard School, New York (clarinet) and the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto (composition), he formed the jazz ensemble Nimmons 'N' Nine in Toronto in 1953.
Enlarged to 16 musicians (Nimmons 'N' Nine Plus Six) in 1965, and active until 1980, the band enjoyed considerable popularity through regular CBC broadcasts and concert tours. Among its nine albums, made between 1956 and 1976, were recordings of the major Nimmons compositions The Atlantic Suite (1974) and Transformations/Invocation (1976). Nimmons continued after 1980 to perform in small-band settings, recording the 2-CD Sands of Time with a quartet as late as 2001.
Phil Nimmons' involvement in music education dates to 1960; he began teaching at University of Toronto in 1973 (he became Director Emeritus of the degree program in jazz studies there in 1991), and has helped to establish jazz programs elsewhere in Canada. Among his later compositions are Skyscape: Sleeping Beauty and the Lions (for concert band, premiered at Expo 86), The Torch (for big band, premiered at the 1988 Olympics) and several classical pieces, including a clarinet sonata (1988), a trumpet concerto (1988) and Moods and Contrasts (for the Esprit Orchestra, 1994).
Phil Nimmons was named an Officer in the Order of Canada in 1994.