I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.”

-Robert Brault

Oliver Jones

2005 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Popular Music)

Jazz pianist Oliver Jones is one of Canada's most beloved and admired musicians and most distinguished cultural ambassadors. Over the past 25 years he has achieved legendary status in the international jazz community, toured tirelessly in Canada and around the world, and devoted much of his time to encouraging young Canadian musicians as they begin their careers. In addition to his performances in concert, in clubs, at prestigious international festivals, and with major orchestras across Canada, he has released 17 recordings. He was profiled in a National Film Board documentary, and his biography will be published this fall.

He was born in Montréal, Quebec, in 1934, and studied piano with Daisy Peterson, his friend Oscar's sister. He made his stage debut at age five-"I needed help getting up on the piano bench," he recalls, "but I was fine after that"-and started playing in clubs when he was nine. Though his father urged him to go into accounting, the young Oliver always knew he wanted to be a musician.

After a musically eclectic early life in Montréal, Mr. Jones worked as a pop-music director in Puerto Rico, but came home in 1980 determined to stick to jazz. He got a job at Biddles, a legendary downtown club, and his career took off.

Mr. Jones' outstanding musical talent is matched by his immense modesty and generosity toward his audiences and fellow musicians, particularly young artists. "It's wonderful to look out and see people smiling," he says. "The communication between musician and audience-that's the best part."

Oliver Jones "retired" in 1999 but still makes over 20 appearances yearly, including numerous charity benefits and the upcoming Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. He enjoys listening to classical music-"rarely jazz!"-and is a recent convert to golf.

Awards and honours include the Order of Canada, the Order of Quebec, several Félix and Juno Awards, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Excellence in Music, and four honorary doctorates.