Montréal born Oliver Jones made his debut as a pianist at age five at Union United Church, and by the time he had his first nightclub appearance, he was nine. In his 77-year career he has released an impressive 25 albums (and one DVD). He has been recognized with numerous awards including the Order of Québec; he was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada and is also the proud recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr award. In 2013 Dr. Jones was honored with a stamp in his likeness as part of the Canada Post stamp program paying tribute to black history. A veteran of life on the road – he has toured extensively throughout Canada, appearing at festivals, concerts and clubs, either as a solo artist or with his trio. His travels also took him to the United States, Europe, New Zealand, Australia and his tour of Nigeria was the subject of a 1990 National Film Board of Canada documentary, Oliver Jones in Africa.
In early 2016 Oliver announced his plans to retire from performing professionally after one last cross-country tour of Canada. His very last show was in Barbados in January 2017 as a tribute to his parents.
“It’s been seventy-seven years and I guess that’s more than enough time working any job, but it’s always been my contention I should play until that feeling is gone but the feeling is still there,” says Jones but he can no longer play at the same capacity. In September 2017 the documentary Oliver Jones | Mind Hands Heart premiered at the Montreal International Black Film Festival. The documentary goes behind the scenes at his final concert at the Montreal International Jazz Festival in July 2016 as well as the Barbados show. Mr. Jones reflects on his memorable life and career, and some of the people who know him best share what he has meant to them and to the Canadian jazz scene.
In a career filled with superlative achievements, Oliver Jones remains one of Canada’s finest musicians.
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