Oliver Jones (pianist)

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Oliver Jones
Birth name Oliver Theophilus Jones
Born (1934-09-11) September 11, 1934 (age 83)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, arranger, educator
Instruments Piano
Years active 1940–present
Associated acts Charlie Biddle, Ranee Lee, Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, Clark Terry

Oliver Theophilus Jones, OC CQ (born September 11, 1934 in Little Burgundy, Montreal, Quebec) is a Canadian jazz pianist, organist, composer and arranger.

Musical career[edit]

Born to Barbadian parents, Oliver Jones began his career as a pianist at the age of five, studying with Mme Bonner in Little Burgundy's Union United Church,[1] made famous by Trevor W. Payne's Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir. He continued to develop his talent through his studies with Oscar Peterson's sister Daisy Peterson Sweeney starting at eight years old.[1] In addition to performing at Union United Church when he was a child, he also performed a solo novelty act at the Cafe St. Michel as well as other clubs and theaters in the Montreal area. "I had a trick piano act, dancing, doing the splits, playing from underneath the piano, or with a sheet over the keys."[2]

He started his early touring in Vermont and Quebec with a band called Bandwagon, and in 1953–63 played mainly in the Montreal area, with tours in Quebec.

From 1964 to 1980 Jones was music director for the Jamaican calypso singer Kenny Hamilton,[3] based out of Puerto Rico.

In late 1980 he teamed up with Montreal's Charlie Biddle, working in and around local clubs and hotel lounges in Montreal. Jones was resident pianist at Charlie Biddle's jazz club Biddles from 1981 to 1986. His first album, Live at Biddles recorded in 1983, was the first record on the Justin Time record label.

By the mid-1980s he was travelling throughout Canada, appearing at festivals, concerts and clubs, either as a solo artist or with a trio: Skip Bey, Bernard Primeau, and Archie Alleyne. His travels also took him to Europe during this period.

His tour of Nigeria was the subject of a 1990 National Film Board of Canada documentary, Oliver Jones in Africa.[4] His music also appears in the NFB animated short film, Black Soul. In 2011 he was one of the big names on the line up of the P.E.I. Jazz and Blues Festival at Charlottetown.[5] Jones was headliner for the Jazz Sudbury Festival 2013, held from Sept. 6-8, 2013.[6]


He taught music at Laurentian University in 1987, and in 1988 he taught music at McGill University in Montreal[7]

In 2009, Jones mentored jazz artist Dione Taylor through the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA) Mentorship Program. The program pairs a mid-career artist with a past GGPAA recipient. The two artists work together to learn and grow from each other's experiences.[8]

Awards and nominations[edit]

In October 1993, Jones was named as an Officer of the Order of Canada.[9]

In 1994 Jones was bestowed the National Order of Québec, with the rank of Chevalier (Knight).[10]

Jones received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award in 2005, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts.[11]

In 1986 Jones won a Juno Award for his album titled Lights of Burgundy, and again in 2009 for Second Time around. He has been nominated 9 other times, the most recent being in 2012, with his album Live in Baden.[12]

Jones has been a multiple recipient of the Félix Award, receiving his first one for his 1989 album Just Friends, and then wins in 1994, 2007 and 2008.[3]

Jones was voted keyboardist of the year, from the National Jazz Awards in 2006.[3]

In 1990 Oliver became the second recipient of the Oscar Peterson Award after Oscar himself. It is presented by the Montreal International Jazz Festival, recognizing a performer's musicianship and for exceptional contribution to the development of Canadian jazz.[13]

In 1999, Jones was awarded the Special Achievement Award at the SOCAN Awards in Toronto.[14]


  • Live at Biddle's Jazz & Ribs 1983
  • The Many Moods of Oliver Jones 1984
  • Lights of Burgundy 1985
  • FIJM 1985
  • Speak Low, Swing Hard 1985
  • Requestfully Yours 1985
  • Cookin' at Sweet Basil 1987
  • Just Friends 1989
  • Northern Summit 1990
  • A Class Act 1991
  • Just 88 1993
  • Yuletide Swing 1994
  • From Lush to Lively 1995
  • Have Fingers Will Travel 1997
  • Just In Time 1998
  • Then And Now 2002
  • Just You,Just Me 2004
  • One More Time 2006
  • Second Time Around 2008
  • Pleased to Meet You 2009
  • A Celebration In Time 2010
  • Live In Baden Switzerland 2011
  • Just For My Lady 2013


  1. ^ a b Miller, Mark (2001). The Miller Companion to Jazz in Canada. Toronto: The Mercury Press. p. 106. ISBN 1-55 128-093-0. 
  2. ^ Miller, Mark (1987). Boogie, Pete and the Senator - Canadian Musicians in Jazz:The Eighties. Toronto: Nightwood Editions. p. 153. ISBN 0-88971-112-7. 
  3. ^ a b c "Oliver Jones". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 8, 2015. 
  4. ^ NFB Web page for Oliver Jones in Africa
  5. ^ "P.E.I. Jazz and Blues Festival schedule". P.E.I. Jazz and Blues Festival. Retrieved August 10, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Oliver Jones to headline fest". Sudbury Star. June 14, 2013. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  7. ^ Sansregret, Marthe (2006). 'Oliver Jones: The Musician, the Man'. XYZ Publishing. ISBN 978-1-894852-22-7. 
  8. ^ "Mentorship Program". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation. Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  9. ^ "Oliver Jones". Governor General of Canada. Retrieved March 9, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Ordre National du Québec - Oliver Jones". Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Oliver Jones biography". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  12. ^ "Juno Awards - Artist Summary". Retrieved March 8, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Prix Oscar Peterson". Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  14. ^ http://www.socan.ca/about/awards/1999-socan-awards

External links[edit]