It’s 1973 and I was hired by then Dean John Beckwith and Performance Coordinator Ezra Schabas to take over directing the Faculty of Music Big Band from Ward Cole, who was leaving to go out west to the University of Calgary. The sessions were during the Fall and Spring terms on Mondays from 7 to 9pm and membership was voluntary from the entire University regardless of what Faculty and from the general public. During my early days with the band we didn’t always have a full complement and it was suggested that we put a trap line on Bloor Street to capture any busking musicians and bring them into the band. However, in the long run things improved and eventually there were 2 bands and they rehearsed from 7 to 9 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays and full attendance was consistent. Little did we know, at the time, that this was the seminal beginning of the Jazz Program which later, after more than a few years, became a reality through Dean Paul Pedersen who hired Paul Read as its first Director. Its beginning was bumpy but today, in every way, it is SWINGING.
Photo: Phil Nimmons performing in Toronto, photo by Bruce Litteljohn.
- Professor Phil Nimmons, Director Emeritus of Jazz Studies