Canadian Jazz Legend Phil Nimmons to Celebrate 100th Birthday

Phil Nimmons fondly known as the “Dean of Canadian Jazz” will celebrate his 100th birthday on June 3rd this year.

Manus Hopkins
May 15, 2023

Phil Nimmons, fondly known as the “Dean of Canadian Jazz” will celebrate his 100th birthday on June 3rd this year. Phil, as he would have you call him, has influenced generations of musicians, music teachers and audiences since the 1950’s through his radio shows, recordings, concerts, band clinics, workshops, programs in universities and summer camps, and tours across the country. He is a prolific composer and arranger with over 400 original jazz compositions and several classical works. He wrote for his own big bands and quartets, as well as for film, radio, TV, stage plays and theatre specials. 

Phil received Canada’s highest honour for an artist when he received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement (2002). He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and has the Order of Ontario. He was inducted into the International Association of Jazz Educators Hall of Fame, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN). Phil was the first recipient of the JUNO award for jazz, receiving “Musical Excellence in Jazz” for The Atlantic Suite in 1977. He won the National Jazz Award for “clarinettist of the year” for thirteen consecutive years.

 One of Canada’s pioneer composers, and one of a handful of musicians who solidly established the country’s status in the world of jazz. Phil helped launch major initiatives that support Canadian contemporary music to this day. He was a founding member of the Canadian League of Composers and a member of the Canadian Music Centre. He helped start many music education programs, including programs at the University of Toronto, the University of Western, the University of New Brunswick and the Banff Centre for Fine Arts. In the 1960s, along with his good friends Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown, he started the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto.

For many years, Nimmons was frequently heard on CBC Radio. In the 70’s, CBC would regularly broadcast Nimmons ‘N’ Nine Plus Six performances from high schools after the band had held clinics with the music students.  

 To learn more about Phil Nimmons, go to a new website,

Manus Hopkins

Manus Hopkins is the Assistant Editor of Canadian Musician