Remember the year: 1981. The 2nd edition of the Festival marks Oliver Jones’ first appearance at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. He would return almost every year afterwards, taking part in opening and closing festivities on several occasions.
In 1989, he was recognized with the honour of playing with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, along with artistic director, Charles Dutoit. The same maestro would later hand him the Oscar Peterson Award at the Place des Arts.
Upon his return to the Festival in 1992, he invited some of his friends to help celebrate the local flavours of jazz. Once he put the word out on the street, many heeded the call, including the Vic Vogel Big Band, and the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir. He wanted to showcase the diversity of the local music scene and offer the public a taste of what is available out there. The choral concert, part of the festivities for Montreal’s 350th Anniversary, was also the closing event that year, and will surely go down in history as a special musical event for the city and for the Festival.
Retirement? Who said anything about retirement?
In 2004, after announcing his official retirement in 2000, Oliver Jones was joined onstage by none other than his dear old friend, Oscar Peterson, in an unforgettable concert that was the main closing event and the highlight of the Festival-definitely another one for the history books.
The following year found Jones joining forces with Montreal singer Ranee Lee, who had talked him out of retirement in 2000, to record the album called Just You, Just Me. He also found himself making his way to the stage once more to play a few tunes as part of the Festival program.
In spring 2008, he kept himself busy launching a new album, Second Time Around, and accepting an invitation to play at the Festival with a fellow pianist named Jones, Hank Jones, to be more precise. In 2011, Jones returned to the Festival to pay tribute to his late friend and mentor Oscar Peterson. The following year, he played a concert showcasing pieces from his own repertoire.
In 2013, the Montreal music legend brought us an exceedingly rare solo performance featuring a mix of compositions and standards in the perfectly intimate Cinquième Salle. A rare privilege. He’s back in 2014 with Lorraine Desmarais, Ranee Lee, Josée Aidans and Daniel Clarke Bouchard to celebrate his 80th birthday!