The Nimmons Tribute is a small Canadian ensemble dedicated to honoring the living legacy of Phil Nimmons
a clarinetist, composer and band leader who, in 2020, was 97-years-old and acknowledged as having done more than anyone else in bringing jazz to the mainstream of Canadian culture. A living legend, active for more than six decades, this "Dean of Canadian jazz" is a multiple JUNO Award-winning artist and recipient of the Order of Canada (O.C.) and Order of Ontario (O. Ont.), adding to his stature in the jazz world.
The Tribute is an octet of some of the finest jazz musicians in Canada, consisting of former students, colleagues, friends and Phil's grandson Sean Nimmons
, the pianist of the band. In presenting Volume 1To the Nth
, the group lays down seven Phil Nimmons original compositions with one from the grandson rounding out an all-family musical jazz experience.
The music is absolutely splendid, starting off with the amazing "Nufsicisum" which read backwards explains Phil's philosophy in life and just happens to be one of the many keepers of the set, featuring Tara Davidson
on alto, Kevin Turcotte
on trumpet and an Ellington-styled back-up band, a swinging number by any measure.
Grandson Sean introduces the sprite "Night Crawler," bouncing off Jon Maharai's firm and constant bass lines as Perry White
's baritone sax and Mike Murley
's tenor sax voices make this nine-minute piece a pleasure to hear. The big-band style shines through on "Harbours -From the Atlantic Suite" the first movement of a 4-movement suite which the legend often played with his big band.
The great Count Basie
comes to mind when listening to "Swing Softly," a ballad with a beautiful melody which is not only soft but bouncy at the same time, featuring Turcotte on the muted horn, the bassist, and Ethan Ardrlli on drums. Staying on the softer side of the music, the group performs warmly and gently on the ballad "Holly," before delivering another melodic mover on the beautiful "Sands of Time," one of the best pieces of the session.
As the music comes to a close, we hear an original from grandson Sean on the introspective, light "Rista's Vista," followed by the finale piece "Liese," penned for Phil's late wife Dr. Noreen Liese Spencer, a classical pianist and educator. It is composition which Sean takes to heart with light touches on the keys and, backed up by the strings, becomes the love ballad of the set and a delicate ending to an amazing homage project.
There is a great deal to say about the music on To the Nth
; it is a compelling tribute to a giant of the jazz world whose music deserves greater attention; with the help of The Nimmons Tribute octet's Volume 1
, Phil Nimmons music will be around for future generations of jazz lovers to enjoy.
Nufsicisum; Night Crawler; Harbours (from the Atlantic Suite); Swing Softly; Holly; Sands
of Time; Rista’s Vista; Liese.