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My Playlist: Phil Nimmons

Carole Warren

Phil Nimmons is a man of many talents. He’s a Juno-award winning composer, arranger, clarinetist and educator. Amazingly, a career in jazz wasn’t the original plan. Growing up in Vancouver, his intention was to go into medicine but music won out. A scholarship to study at Julliard was followed by three years at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

Nimmons has written over hundreds of pieces over the past 70 years for small and large ensembles, film, television, radio and the concert stage. Each one would be unique because you didn’t hire Nimmons if you wanted the same old thing.

To call Phil Nimmons a “pioneer” isn’t hyperbole. He is the last surviving charter member of the Canadian League of Composers. Nimmons was also the recipient of the first ever Jazz Juno award in 1977 for his recording of “The Atlantic Suite,” and he is a member of the Order of Canada.

Nimmons has left his mark on generations of students by bringing jazz into the high school and university classrooms as a music educator. In 1960, Nimmons ran the Advanced School of Contemporary Music with Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown. He’s also headed up jazz programs at the Banff Centre, the University of New Brunswick and Toronto.

Phil Nimmons is in his nineties now. He’s still playing, still writing, still improvising and still teaching us the spontaneity of jazz.

My Playlist: Phil Nimmons

Phil Nimmons reveals the stories behind his favourite songs.