Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Nimmons, Phil (Philip Rista)

Nimmons, Phil (Philip Rista), composer, clarinetist; b. Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, 3 June 1923.

Nimmons's early education was in Vancouver, B.C.. He's a graduate of the University of British Columbia, B.A. (Pre-Med). He was a scholarship student Julliard School of Music, New York. He did post-graduate studies in composition at the Royal Conservatory of Music and University of Toronto. He's a student of Arnold Walter, John Weinzweig and Richard Johnston. He played in dance bands and on radio broadcasts in Vancouver, Canada (1940-45) and worked for the CBC in Toronto as a bandleader and composer of incidental music (1950). He was a founding member of the Canadian League of Composers, 1950. In 1957 he formed the group Nimmons 'n'Nine which performed on broadcasts of the CBC for more than 20 years and made several albums. He was a teacher, director, and co-founder with Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown of the Advanced School of Contemporary Music, Toronto, 1960-1966. Nimmons has also taught at the University of Western Ontario, the Banff Jazz Workshop and many other summer programs, and for many years at the University of Toronto, where he was Director of Jazz Studies (now Emeritus). He has served as an adjudicator at countless student festivals and volunteered many hours to help students with learning disabilities, people in prisons, and others in need. He is a member of the Advisory Council of the IAJE. He has composed contemporary classical works for piano, strings, flute, voice, and orchestras in addition to over 400 original jazz compositions and hundreds of orchestrations. Compositions include film scores; radio, tv, stage plays, theatre specials; CBC, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Royal Alexander Theatre, Crest Theatre; O'Keefe centre, EXPO '67; World Music Week - CBC/IMC of UNESCO, 1975; World Olympics, 1976. Phil Nimmons, and Nimmons 'N Nine/ Nimmons 'N Nine Plus Six conducted extensive tours throughout Europe and Canada in the 1970s, including a World Tour as representatives of Canada under the auspices of the then Governor General Roland Michener. A tour of the Atlantic Provinces was funded as a special cultural event. This tour inspired the compositions that form The Atlantic Suite and Suite P.E.I.

As a hobby Nimmons has carved abstract wood sculptures with personalized themes for friends Harry Freedman, Mary Morrison, Oscar Peterson, Norman Jewison, Ed Bickert, Jerry Toth, Rob McConnell, Tom Leon and others. A member of the Long Point Bird Observatory and active in the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey, Phil is keen about ecology, wildlife conservation and golf. He and his late wife Noreen, a former concert pianist, maintained an "open door" policy at home for music students, and he continues this policy in her memory.

Recordings:
Canadian Scene Via the Phil Nimmons (1956); Nimmons 'n' Nine (1959); Take Ten (1963); Mary Poppins Swings (1964); Vintage Nimmons 'n' Nine (broadcasts 1959-64); Strictly Nimmons (1965); Nimmons Now (1970); Suite PEI (1973); The Atlantic Suite (1975); Transformations/Invocation (1976); The Atlantic Suite/Tributes (1996); Sands of Time (2001).

Television broadcasts:
Norman Campbell's television premiere of Anne of Green Gables; Original scores for television written for producers Norman Jewison, Norman Campbell, Norman Sedawie, Paul Almond, among others.

Radio broadcasts:
Original radio music scores include those written for producers J. Frank Willis, Esse Ljhung, John Reeves, Peter MacDonald, Andrew Allan, Rupert Caplan and Bill Howell.

Films:
He arranged Oscar Peterson's themes for Ontario Place film, Big North Ontario; Film scores include A Dangerous Age, 1957; A Cool Sound from Hell, 1959

Bibliography:
J. Batten: "Anybody wanta Pay Attention!," The Canadian (23 June 1979)
Mark Miller, Boogie, Pete & the Senator: Canadian Musicians in Jazz: the Eighties (Toronto, 1987)
Mark Miller, Such Melodious Racket (1997)
Murray Ginsberg, They Loved to Play (1998)
Alex and Ted Barris, Making Music (2001)
Mark Miller. Companion to Jazz in Canada (2001)

Awards:
Government of Canada, 1967.
CNE Certificate of Appreciation, Canada's Bicentennial Year, 1967.
BMI (Canada), 1968.
City of Fredericton, Certificate of Appreciation Cultural Contribution, 1975.
JUNO Award, first recipient of the "Music Excellence in Jazz"; Canadian Academy of Arts & Sciences, 1976.
Outstanding Success Award, Performance Rights Organization (PRO Canada) 1980.
Toronto Arts Award for Creative Excellence in Music and Contribution to Canadian to Canadian Culture; first recipient, 1986.
Officer of the Order of Canada. April 13, 1994
Order of Ontario, 1994.
Consistent winner of Jazz Report awards for clarinet 1995-2003
Jazz Educator's Hall of Fame, IAJE, 2001
Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, 2002
Distinguished Service Award in Music Education, U. of Toronto, 2003

Contact information:
phil.nimmons@utoronto.ca
Studio: 905-889-8374

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