Oliver Jones — the greatest living jazz musician in Canada — played his hometown Montreal International Jazz Festival, one of the world’s largest. “Oliver Jones Plays Oliver Jones,” read the bill. It was the first time, he said in a conversation earlier last week, that the pianist, now 77, would be playing strictly his own tunes for an entire set.
The show was an affirmation of his legacy, in Canada and abroad, and — backed by his trio of Jim Doxas on drums and Eric Lagacé on bass — he played brilliantly into the night. Highlights included “One More Time,” the swinging title track of his 2006 release, and “Lights of Burgundy,” a wistful ballad recorded in 1985 and named after the poor, black neighborhood in Montreal where he grew up, Little Burgundy.
For the final song, however, Jones strayed from the script. He chose the late pianist Oscar Peterson‘s powerful “Hymn to Freedom,” which wound up a fitting conclusion to the show. Earlier that evening, Jones had presented Canadian vibraphonist Peter Appleyard with the Festival’s Oscar Peterson Award, a prize bestowed to a great Canadian jazz musician. Jones received the award himself in 1990. Continue reading