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March 26, 2006

Canadian Jazz Icon Named Artist of Distinction

Written by
cindy mcleod

Canadian jazz news


The 2006 National Jazz Awards Gala on April 10th includes the naming of Phil Nimmons as the “JAZZ.FM.91 Artist of Distinction”, recognizing the legendary clarinetist’s consummate excellence as a performer, educator, and multimedia composer at the forefront of the Canadian jazz scene for more than five decades. Nimmons adds the recognition to the extensive list of humanitarian, academic, government, and industry honors that have been accorded him throughout a jazz career spanning more than a half century. Last year’s honors went to vibraphone master Peter Appleyard.

Announcement of clarinetist Phil Nimmons as the 2006 recipient came from Bernard Webber, Chairman of the JAZZ.FM91 Board of Directors who said the award was established to “honor a Canadian artist who has made an important and enduring contribution to the promotion and development of excellence in the world of jazz, with a particular emphasis on Canada”.

Phil Nimmons is widely acknowledged as a unique performer, composer, educator, clinician and artistic director of music programs. He is a multimedia composer of over 400 original contemporary classical and jazz compositions written for stage, television, radio, and film, in addition to hundreds of jazz orchestrations. He graduated in pre-Med from the University of British Columbia in 1944, but soon turned his focus to Music. He earned a scholarship to study at the Julliard School of Music in New York and later studied composition at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He is an originating member of the Canadian League of Composers, and founded the Advanced School of Contemporary Music with Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown. He was the first artistic director of many summer jazz programs across Canada, including that at the Banff School of Fine Arts. He influenced the inauguration of the jazz studies program at the University of Toronto where he has taught in the Faculty of Music for over 30 years, and is currently Director Emeritus there.

His bands ‘Nimmons ‘N’ Nine’ and ‘Nimmons ‘N’ Nine Plus Six’ performed for several decades on radio and television as well as touring extensively internationally. Currently, Phil Nimmons performs and records with ‘The Phil Nimmons Quartet’ as well as in guest appearances and special works all across the country.

He was the first recipient of the Toronto Arts Award for Creative Excellence in Music, the first Juno Award recipient in the Jazz category for his composition and recording of the ‘Atlantic Suite’, and a recipient for several consecutive years of The Jazz Report Award and National Jazz Award for Clarinetist of the Year. In 1994, Canada officially acknowledged Phil’s work and talent by investing him as an Officer of The Order of Canada and a month later, he was named an Officer of The Order of Ontario, honors which acknowledged “his significant contribution to the cultural life of Canada…largely responsible for bringing jazz into the mainstream of music through radio performances, concerts, workshops, and class rooms…a superior composer, educator, and clarinetist who has contributed to the success of established musicians and influenced the careers of generations of younger musicians…a tireless advocate of jazz as a significant art form”.

In 2001, Phil Nimmons was inducted into The Jazz Educators’ Hall of Fame by the International Association for Jazz Education “for his total dedication to jazz and jazz education”. In January 2006 he received the first Phil Nimmons SOCAN/IAJE Established Composer Award during this year’s IAJE Conference in New York where Nimmons and the Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra premiered his latest composition to wide critical acclaim.

for more information visit www.jazz.fm

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