- 1945-1997 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
18.8 m of textual documents (47 boxes)
Name of creator
Nimmons (clarinetist, composer, arranger, and band leader) was born in Kamloops, British Columbia on June 3, 1923, and raised in Vancouver. His life-long career in music began with playing clarinet in high school, and leading a small band in his Point Grey neighbourhood. Nimmons studied at the University of British Columbia 1940-1944 in preparation for a career in medicine. At this time, he played in local dance bands (Sandy DeSantis, Stan Patton, Barney Potts, Wilf Wylie, and Dal Richards) and joined the jazz quintet of the guitarist Ray Norris, where he actively arranged a substantial body of music. He subsequently studied clarinet 1945-1947 at the Juilliard School with Arthur Christmann and composition 1948-1950 at the Royal Conservatory of Music with Richard Johnston, Arnold Walter, and John Weinzweig.
In 1953, Nimmons formed his own jazz band (which took the name Nimmons 'N' Nine in 1957). Early broadcasts on CBC and its concert debut in 1956 at the Stratford Festival marked the beginning of this venture. Through various iterations, including Nimmons ‘N’ Nine Plus Six, this ensemble continued in some form much of the rest of his career. Subsequently, Nimmons has performed with David Braid, billing themselves as Nimmons ‘N’ Braid. In November 2013, Nimmons performed in a concert billed as “Nimmons ‘N’ 90” in celebration of his 90th year. Nimmons joined the University of Toronto in 1973 as instructor in jazz techniques and is now Director Emeritus of Jazz Studies.
Nimmons, and his ensembles, toured widely, including many engagements around the world. Nimmons is known to create works in both the jazz and classical vein. Nimmons was a founding member of the Canadian League of Composers and an associate of the Canadian Music Centre. He also founded jazz programs at several schools and universities, including the Banff School of Fine Arts (1970), the University of Toronto (1973), the University of Western Ontario (1978), the Courtney Youth Music Centre (1982), and the InterProvincial Music Camp, near Parry Sound, Ontario (1987).
Nimmons was awarded the first Juno in the Jazz category in 1976 for the recording of his Atlantic Suite (1974) by Nimmons ‘N’ Nine Plus Six. Nimmons has received many commissions including “Transformations” (premiered by Nimmons ‘N’ Nine Plus Six), which was commissioned jointly by the CBC and the Ontario Arts Council for World Music Week Conference (1975), hosted by the Canadian Music Council on behalf of the International Music Council (UNESCO). “Invocation” was commissioned jointly by COJO and the Ontario Arts Council and was premiered by Nimmons ‘N’ Nine Plus Six in the 1976 Olympic Games. “Plateaus: Cartiboo Country Tone Poem,” commissioned by the CBC Vancouver Orchestra and premiered in 1986, was subsequently recorded by that ensemble for CBC Classics. The Olympic Arts Festival of the 1986 Winter Games commissioned “The Torch,” and the work was premiered in Calgary by an Olympic Jazz Band, directed by Rob McConnell.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Donation received from Phil Nimmons (2017). Orchestration and arrangement of Oscar Peterson's Canadiana Suite added in October 2019.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Fonds consists primarily of manuscript scores and parts, along with typescript copies. The fonds also contains radio scripts and cue sheets from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) productions, for which Phil Nimmons wrote and arranged music. Scores and parts include music written for his jazz band Nimmons 'N' Nine; its expanded version Nimmons 'N' Nine Plus Six; and various other ensembles. When indicated on the scores or parts, further details about the performers of each piece are indicated in file-level descriptions.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
Fonds appraised by Rob Bowman in August 2017.
Further accruals are expected.
System of arrangement
File-level descriptions were migrated from a db/Text database developed in partnership with Phil Nimmons and the Faculty of Music Library. Arrangement by Phil Nimmons and preserved in this order. Files are divided into two subseries of Nimmons' original compositions and his arrangements. Further division into subseries is based on the contents of each file (i.e., inclusion of score, parts, and/or scripts).
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Copyright is maintained by the estate. Can be viewed by appointment with the Music Library.
Conditions governing reproduction
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Uploaded finding aid
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Previously titled "Archives Collection 30: Phil Nimmons." Reference code (30) removed from the title of the fonds July 30, 2019.