By the time the programs from which these air checks are taken were heard via the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, composer / arranger / bandleader / clarinetist Phil Nimmons was well–known in that country, having started his career with the CBC in the early 1940s and begun a twenty–year run of regular Jazz broadcasts in 1957. Even though the selections herein were transferred to disc from forty–year–and–older analog tapes, the over–all sound is remarkably clean, especially when compared to other air checks we’ve heard. Monaural of course, but that can’t be helped. What is perhaps most striking is the consistently high quality and inventiveness of Nimmons’s charts (he arranged everything and wrote all but three numbers — Goodbye,” “Too Late Now,” “Lush Life”).
Disc 1 is Nimmons all the way, opening with the brief but aptly named “I Love to Play” and encompassing nine more of his absorbing compositions. Nimmons always had a number of capable soloists in the band, and there are stylish features for guitarist Ed Bickert (“One Long Song”), trombonist Butch Watanabe (“Not Soon Enough”), bassist Murray Lauder (“Bass–ically Yours”), alto Jerry Toth and tenor Roy Smith (“Exactly Like Jerry Smith”), Bickert and Toth (“Twooch”) and Nimmons himself with accordionist Vic Centro (“Squits”).
Bickert, who later enjoyed a long and happy association with Rob McConnell’s Boss Brass (as did Nimmons alumni Toth and Rick Wilkins), is showcased again on Disc 2’s opening track, “Peaches and Brandy,” and with tenor Smith on the fast-moving “I Told You So,” Watanabe and Lauder on “Sku–Ba–Doo” and trumpeter Erich Traugott on the lovely ballad “Too Late Now.” Traugott has the spotlight to himself on Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life,” as do Smith on “The Getaway” and trombonist Teddy Roderman on Gordon Jenkins’ “Goodbye.” The bluesy closing theme, “Kicks,” featuring laid–back solos by Bickert, Toth and Smith, is also well–named.
For more than two decades Nimmons ‘N Nine (later Nimmons ‘N Nine Plus Six) was one of Canda’s busiest and most popular Jazz ensembles, and these radio broadcasts are a tangible signpost of that era. What’s even more important, however, is that the music is delightful and readily masters the test of time. It’s “vintage” all the way.
Track Listing: Disc 1
Personnel: Phil Nimmons, leader, clarinet; Jerry Toth, Bernie Piltch, alto sax; Roy Smith, Rick Wilkins, tenor sax; Eddie Karam, Jack Taylor, baritone sax; Erich Traugott, trumpet; Ross Culley, Butch Watanabe, Teddy Roderman, trombone; Vic Centro, accordion; Ed Bickert, guitar; Murray Lauder, bass; Ron Scully, Archie Alleyne, Jack McQuade, drums.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.