Anyone who listened to Canadian radio after the adoption of the so-called Canadian Content requirement in the '70s probably heard a lot of Phil Nimmons' music. To be sure, the clarinetist, composer and arranger had achieved some recognition south of the 49th parallel through his RCA recordings of the '50s but, by choosing to base his career in Toronto, he became a living symbol of Canadian jazz. When the nation celebrated the 100th anniversary of Confederation in 1967, Nimmons was perhaps the leading Canadian jazz musician not named Oscar Peterson. In 2023 Phil Nimmons celebrated another centennial, his own. To commemorate this milestone birthday, some of Nimmons' colleagues, former students and friends convened as The Nimmons Tribute using instrumentation which echoed the classic Nimmons 'N' Nine formation debuted by the dedicatee some 70 years earlier: trumpet, trombone, three reeds and rhythm, offering ample opportunity for soloists and arranger, all leading players on Toronto's scene, alike. About that arranger: he is pianist Sean Nimmons, Phil Nimmons' grandson. On this, the band's second recording, Sean contributed two compositions of his own, but the spotlight is appropriately on grandpa, revealing a composer of wide interests and superb taste. The warm autumnal colors which envelope Kevin Turcotte's trumpet on "Under A Tree" evoke another Torontonian, Gil Evans. "Transformations" is a Turcotte vehicle in 5/4 with a Brazilian bounce and "Arf" charges out of the speakers like an eager dog let off the leash. The mellow ballad "Islands" is the second movement of 1974's "The Atlantic Suite," perhaps Nimmons' supreme compositional achievement and the first jazz album to win a Juno Award. With Tara Davidson's sweet soprano sax drifting over plush Rhodes chords, it is Canadian content which is as dreamy as a summer idyll in the Maritime provinces.
Arf; Islands (from the Atlantic Suite); Generational; Under a Tree; Transformations (2nd movement); Bella
Shores; Carey Dance; Night Night Smiley (ft. Heather Bambrick)
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