It’s not just the musicianship that drives this album; it is the familiarity with the Nimmons material that brings these songs to life.
Available from Bandcamp
Ethan Ardeli (Drums), William Carn (Trombone), Tara Davidson (Alto & Soprano Sax, Clarinet), Alex Dean (Baritone Sax, Bass Clarinet), Jon Maharaj (Bass), Mike Murley (Tenor Sax), Sean Nimmons-Paterson (Piano, Fender Rhodes, Arrangements), Kevin Turcotte (Trumpet, Flugelhorn), Heather Bambrick (Voice on one track)
Recorded March 18th and 19th 2023
I am a pushover for octets and nonets. I love the multiple horn voicings that can be infinitely combined. This album delivers that and more in eight strikingly-arranged songs. Six of the songs were composed by “the Dean of Canadian jazz,” clarinetist, bandleader, composer, and arranger Phil Nimmons.
The octet is composed of former students, colleagues, friends, and family cohabiting and honoring the songs of Phil Nimmons.
Nimmons is a national treasure of Canada – over 400 original jazz songs over his eighty-year career. He has been lauded with awards including the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the first JUNO award for a jazz album in 1977, and a 15th Annual Downbeat Achievement award for jazz education.
Nimmons has influenced generations of jazz musicians through his bands, his teaching, and the music schools he established. He turned 100 on June 3, 2023.
One man he influenced was his grandson, Sean Nimmons-Paterson. Sean was responsible for the choice of songs, the arrangements, and production for this album. He also played acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, and wrote two songs. The thread through the album is that generations both honor and enhance past contributions.
The group includes illustrious jazz musicians, bandleaders, arrangers, composers, and Juno Award winners. It’s not just the musicianship that drives this album; it is the familiarity with the Nimmons material that brings these songs to life.
The album reimagines a variety of Nimmons’s music (quartet, big band, nonet) rearranged for an octet. Nimmons-Paterson provides adequate space for solos for each musician throughout the album.
This is a very nuanced album with great arrangements and a variety of soloing passages. The multi-instrumentalists (Davidson, Dean, Nimmons Paterson) add further colors, expanding the sound palette from eight to thirteen potential voices. The arrangements bring out the solo voices as well as the support from the rest of the band.
The opening piece, “Arf”, begins with a short upbeat march with punchy horn arrangements. The music is buoyed with baritone sax, trumpet, and drum solos. This piece captures the big band voicings and sounds in an octet. This is one of Nimmons-Paterson’s favorites of his grandfather’s songs.
“Islands” provides Tara Davidson ample soloing on saxophone on top of Fender Rhodes as other instruments join in. It is followed by “Generational” in which all musicians are afforded solos. This piece passes through different phases as each instrument takes a solo over the evolving arrangement.
Nimmons-Patterson grew up hearing his grandfather play, “Under a Tree”, but as a quartet piece. It is deftly expanded to an octet while retaining its tender melody. The octet makes way for tenor and trumpet solos supporting but never clashing. This song is a favorite.
“Transformations 2” was one song that was rediscovered on Nimmons vinyl. It gives a modern spin with its odd-time signature. The trumpet and saxophone trade lines over the other horns’ harmony. “Bella Shores” and “Under a Tree” are contemplative, introspective songs meant for you to sit back, listen to, and enjoy.
The final two songs are selections by Nimmons that were composed for his family. “Carey Dance” opens with a spritely horn arrangement in which the soloing horns trade phrases. Nimmons-Paterson is afforded some piano soloing time.
“Night Night Smiley” is the only song featuring a vocal and closes out the album. It portrays the age-old tradition of a parent encouraging a young child to go to sleep.
The CD blends arrangements and solos throughout highlighting the talents of these excellent and well-known musicians.