Oliver Jones (pianist)

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Oliver Jones
Oliver Jones in 2014
Oliver Jones in 2014
Background information
Birth nameOliver Theophilus Jones
Born (1934-09-11) September 11, 1934 (age 88)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger, educator
Years active1940–present

Oliver Theophilus Jones, OC CQ (born September 11, 1934 in Little Burgundy, Montreal, Quebec)[1] is a Canadian jazz pianist, organist, composer and arranger.

In 2023, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.[2]

Musical career[edit]

Born to Barbadian parents, Oliver Jones began his career as a pianist at the age of five,[1] studying with Mme Bonner in Little Burgundy's Union United Church,[3] 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.[3] 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."[4]

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,[5] 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.[1] 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.[6] His music also appears in the NFB animated short film, Black Soul. In 1998, Jones wrote, arranged and performed the original score to the documentary film, Season of Change (Rightime Productions) about Jackie Robinson's season with the Montreal Royals baseball club in 1946.[7]: 270  In 2011 he was one of the big names on the line up of the P.E.I. Jazz and Blues Festival at Charlottetown.[8] Jones was headliner for the Jazz Sudbury Festival 2013, held from Sept. 6-8, 2013.[9]


Jones taught music at Laurentian University 1987-1995, at McGill University 1988-1995.[5]

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.[10]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Officer of the Order of Canada.[11] (1993)

In 1994, Jones was bestowed the National Order of Québec, with the rank of Chevalier (Knight).[12]

Jones received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award in 2005, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts.[13]

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 nine other times, the most recent being in 2012, with his album Live in Baden.[14]

He was given the Félix Award, in 1989, 1994, 2007 and 2008.[5]

Jones was voted keyboardist of the year, from the National Jazz Awards in 2006.[5]

The Oscar Peterson Award[15] (1990)

In 1999, Jones was awarded the Special Achievement Award at the SOCAN Awards in Toronto.[16]


Year Title Label Notes
1983 Live at Biddle's Jazz & Ribs
1984 The Many Moods of Oliver Jones Justin Time Solo piano[17]
1985 Lights of Burgundy Justin Time With Fraser McPherson (tenor sax), Reg Schwager (guitar), Michael Donato (bass), Jim Hillman (drums)[17]
1985? FIJM Justin Time With Charlie Biddle (bass); in concert
1987 Speak Low, Swing Hard Justin Time With Skip Beckwith (bass), Jim Hillman (drums)[17]
1986 Requestfully Yours Justin Time With Skip Beckwith (bass), Anil Sharma (drums)[17]
1987 Cookin' at Sweet Basil Justin Time Trio, with Dave Young (bass), Terry Clarke (drums); in concert[17]
1989 Just Friends Justin Time With Clark Terry (trumpet), Dave Young (bass), Nasyr Abdul A-Khabyyr (drums)[17]
1990 Northern Summit Justin Time Trio, with Herb Ellis (guitar), Red Mitchell (bass)[17]
1990 Live in Baden Switzerland Justin Time Trio, with Reggie Johnson (bass), Ed Thigpen (drums); in concert; released 2012[18]
1991 A Class Act Justin Time Trio, with Steve Wallace (bass), Ed Thigpen (drums)[19]
1993 Just 88 Justin Time
1994 Yuletide Swing Justin Time Quartet, with Richard Ring (guitar), Dave Young (bass), Walt Muhammad (drums)[20]
1995 From Lush to Lively Justin Time With orchestra
1997 Have Fingers Will Travel Justin Time Trio, with Ray Brown (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums)[19]
1998 Just In Time Justin Time Trio, with Dave Young (bass), Norman Marshall Villeneuve (drums); in concert[19]
2002 Then & Now Justin Time Duo, with Skip Bey (bass)[19]
2005 Just You, Just Me Justin Time Co-led with Ranee Lee (vocals); some tracks duo, some tracks quartet[21]
2006 One More Time Justin Time Some tracks trio; some tracks with Dave Grott (trombone), Chet Doxas (tenor sax), Ingrid Jensen added[22]
2008 Second Time Around Justin Time Trio, with Éric Lagacé (bass), Jim Doxas (drums)
2009 Pleased to Meet You Justin Time Co-led with Hank Jones (piano); most tracks duo; some tracks quartet, with Brandi Disterheft (bass), Jim Doxas (drums) added[23]
2010 A Celebration in Time Justin Time
2013 Just for My Lady Justin Time Some tracks trio, with Éric Lagacé (bass), Jim Doxas (drums); some tracks quartet, with Josée Aidans (violin) added


  1. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 1317. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ Benchetrit, Jenna. "These are the inductees of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame". CBC. Retrieved 19 May 2023.
  3. ^ a b Miller, Mark (2001). The Miller Companion to Jazz in Canada. Toronto: The Mercury Press. p. 106. ISBN 1-55 128-093-0.
  4. ^ Miller, Mark (1987). Boogie, Pete and the Senator - Canadian Musicians in Jazz:The Eighties. Toronto: Nightwood Editions. p. 153. ISBN 0-88971-112-7.
  5. ^ a b c d "Oliver Jones". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  6. ^ "NFB Web page for Oliver Jones in Africa". Nfb.ca. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  7. ^ Sansregret, Marthe (2006). Oliver Jones : the musician, the man : a biography. Montreal: XYZ Publishing. ISBN 978-1-894852-22-7.
  8. ^ "P.E.I. Jazz and Blues Festival schedule". P.E.I. Jazz and Blues Festival. Archived from the original on 19 October 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  9. ^ "Oliver Jones to headline fest". Sudbury Star. 14 June 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Mentorship Program". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  11. ^ "Oliver Jones". Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  12. ^ "Ordre National du Québec - Oliver Jones". Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  13. ^ "Oliver Jones biography". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Juno Awards - Artist Summary". Junoawards.ca. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  15. ^ "Prix Oscar Peterson". Montrealjazzfest.com. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  16. ^ "1999 Socan Awards | Socan". Archived from the original on 29 October 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (1992). The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, LP & Cassette (1st ed.). Penguin. pp. 593–594. ISBN 978-0-14-015364-4.
  18. ^ Dryden, Ken. "Oliver Jones: Live in Baden, Switzerland". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  19. ^ a b c d Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 796. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  20. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Oliver Jones: Yuletide Swing". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  21. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Ranee Lee / Oliver Jones: Just You, Just Me". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  22. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Oliver Jones: One More Time". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  23. ^ Dryden, Ken. "Hank Jones / Oliver Jones: Pleased to Meet You". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 January 2019.

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