Remembering Phil Nimmons

June 3, 1923 – April 5, 2024

A tribute to the clarinetist, bandleader and composer

Phil Nimmons passed away on Apr. 5, 2024 at the age of 100.

He was born on June 3, 1923 in Kamlooops, Canada.

Nimmons, who grew up in Vancouver, was an active jazz clarinetist by the mid-to-late 1940s, playing with dance bands and on the radio.

He graduated from the University of British Columbia and also studied at Juilliard and the Royal Conservatory Of Music.

In 1953 he formed “Nimmons ‘n’ Nine,” a group that played regularly on CBC Radio, gradually growing until it was renamed Nimmons ‘n’ Nine Plus Six in 1965.

Nimmons recorded nine albums with that ensemble during 1956-76, leading and writing for the band until 1980.

He remained active in later years, heading smaller groups.

Phil Nimmons was also an influential educator, working at many institutions, most notably the University Of Toronto.

He composed more than 400 pieces and worked in straight ahead jazz, free jazz, and classical music, in addition to writing many film scores.

While he received many offers to work in the United States, Phil Nimmons thought that it was more important to be a major part of the Toronto jazz scene.

Here is Nimmons ‘n’ Nine Plus Six performing the leader’s “Six Bird Burger” in the mid-1970s.

-Scott Yanow