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« British Columbian jazz legend Phil Nimmons is celebrating his 100th birthday on Saturday.

The Kamloops-born clarinetist and composer won the first-ever Juno award for jazz and helped found a pioneering jazz school in Toronto.

« So many current jazz musicians owe what they do to Phil, » said Daniel Hersog, the academic coordinator of the jazz program at Capilano University in North Vancouver.

« Phil is a true one-of-a-kind — a true trailblazer in jazz education, jazz performance and jazz composition. »

In the 1960s, Nimmons, along with jazz greats Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown, founded Toronto’s Advanced School of Contemporary Music, one of the first institutions to offer formal jazz training.

It only lasted a few years, but Nimmons spent decades teaching youth summer camps and high school students.

« I had this feeling I wanted to pass along whatever I might have learned, » he told CBC News from his home in Thornhill, Ont. « Whatever you write or come up with, it’s the truth of how you feel.

« I cannot help but feel that everybody that has touched my life helped me be what I am … In retrospect, I’m blessed…. »

WATCH | Phil Nimmons speaks about his jazz career: