8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 4 - December 2005

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  • Toronto
  • December
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  • January
  • Jazz
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Jazz talk.: Vhil ~immons

Jazz talk.: Vhil ~immons interviewed b~ _Jim t;allowa~ Philip Rista Nimmons was born in Kamloops, BC, on June 3, 1923. He wears many hats, as composer, arranger, clarinetist, bandleader, and educator. Honours have been showered on Phil Nimmons and presently there is a flurry of well-deserved activity, but the achievements have done little to change the z 0 inner man. 1 sat down recently with Phil Nimmons and talked about some of Q >­ the things that matter to Phil, as well as his likes and dislikes ..... Here are "' "' highlights from the first hour of the interview, giving an insight into the man 0 f- and his music. The entire conversation can be found on the WholeNote website 0 :,: at and the second part of the interview will be posted "­ __, __, in January at the same time as the January listings. ~~:c________.f!!!!__~~__::-==~-.~~ _.:_______J~ The Instrument JG: Why clarinet? PN: ... my older sister, who is still alive, I asked her as my source, and fountain of information still . She said, "you heard Benny Goodman on the air, and that was it, you were smitten." When I think back on those days, radio ... you're fooling around the dials or something, I can't remember anything specific, but according to Jane, that's my sister, she said I was smitten with Benny Goodman and I wanted to get a clarinet and so that's how that came about. JG: I think younger people today perhaps don't realise, but radio was so important. PN: Oh yes, and I think in a very profound way because we had to use our ears. And that started right from the beginning, and I think having a highly motivating and inspiring relationship to what you're hearing on the radio is something .. .. eventually I found out when Benny Goodman was broadcasting on the Camel Caravan (or Artie Shaw), and those were both influences on me. I just preferred Benny Goodman's sound. JG: Were there any other players out there you liked? PN: Oh, well I liked all those guys, Irving Fazola, Barney Bigard, Buster Bailey, Jimmy Hamilton, Buddy Defranco. JG: Does the fact that the clarinet became unfashionable bother you? PN: Oh yeah, it was The instrument. JG: But then it went right out the window. Nobody was playing clarinet for a long time. PN: Things change (with a hearty chuckle). There's a lot of things that become unfashionable (both men laugh). And it takes some adjusting to in a lot of ways. Early Days PN: I started to play almost immediately on the CBC in Vancouver and of course most of my activities for a great number of years were all in the studios because it was all being supported by the CBC . In the beginning, I listened to both classical and jazz. I feel that was a blessing. I mean I didn't really know what was happening ... I wasn't categorized in those terms .... I did a lot of work in casuals and dance bands out in Vancouver, and when I came to Toronto we played some great music in those days. Maybe the solos were only eight bars long or sixteen bars long but the charts were great that were being written for the bands in those days. Recording JG: How do you feel about playing in a studio as opposed to before an audience? PN: Oh, I'd much rather play before an audience. I feel that they are a part of the formula with the performer and that they are a part of the whole process. God, you ' ve got to have a conversation, it's not only with yourself. JG: Well, it's the same for me. I would rather record before an audience and I would accept flaws in the recording, because of the other pluses. PN: I have always felt that -- right from the beginning. There are people who really dig going into studios, that's another approach. This is just my opinion: when I listen to the live recordings over the years opposed to ones from studios, for me, I could keep listening to the live recordings always always. The other ones start to pall, I think they don't have the same ambience, but that's me, you know. I don't know whether my philosophy affects my listening as well (laughs) because life is not perfect, so why do we try and make it perfect, it would become boring, you know ...... Well, the Portraits recording we did live, and I think it was a blessing in disguise because we couldn't get enough funding to go into the studio and so we wound up doing it live. The Educator JG: If a student comes to you, what do you think he should know? What do you expect of a student when he comes to you? And if he doesn 't know, where would you guide him? PN: Ideally, I would like a student to be openminded, and also, if we are talking about music, if he accepts the fact that he hasn't used his ears enough (laughs). I am not trying to be facetious, but there are a lot of people I have taught that do not have the aural approach to things consistently, all the time. I think you look for a dedication, and a commitment, you know, and it is quite important to me when I am teaching that I have to try and find a way to connect with every student. They're not the same, so you have to have a pretty open mind about some different approaches to look after different people. And it helps a big deal if you get somebody with an open mind and I don't mean to the extent that they stop having a personality, but you have to be able to receive some information and process it without losing your own identity. I try as a teacher to just open doors and not get in the way, and without them knowing, lovingly mold them in certain ways. The Voice JG: "1iat about singers? .. I 14 l

THE ROYAL CONSERVATO MUSIC GREAT ARTISTS Piano Mastery Mostly Mexican Li Wang piano Program to include LISZT Mephisto Waltz No. 1 MUSSORGSKY Pictures at an Exhibition SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3, 8 PM RCM Concert Hall 90 Croatia Street (Bloor & Dufferin) Adults , Students & Seniors Group rates available 416.408.2824, ext. 321 Joaquin Valdepenas clarinet With friends from The Glenn Gould School faculty Program to include music by HERAS, CHAVEZ and MARQUEZ SUNDAY, JANUARY 29, 3 PM RCM Concert Hall 90 Croatia Street (Bloor & Dufferin) Adults , Students & Seniors Group rates available 416.408.2824, ext. 321 ORCHESTRA 30 years of Anagnoson & Kinton Celebrating the 30th anniversary of Canada's best-known piano duo The Royal Conservatory Orchestra Simon Streatfeild conductor Anagnoson & Kinton piano duo FREEDMAN Duke STRAUSS Till Eu/enspiege/ POULENC Concerto for 2 pianos RAVEL Daphnis et Chloe Suite I & II El .. _-- -~- ",. _. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 8 PM George Weston Recital Hall Toronto Centre for the Arts Adults , Students & Seniors Group rates available 416.872.1111 l +I Ca nadian Heritage Patnmoine canadien I l{B( The Guest Conductor Program l i rLH1cl ,1l is generously s upported by th e . Cr,)up RSC Founda tion Offi cial W ine Sponsor

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