• Bourne's Montreal: Oliver Jones And Friends

    July 28, 2014. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    No musician in Montreal is beloved like pianist Oliver Jones. He's like a musical godfather of the jazzfest.

    Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich
    Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich

    On the same floor as the press room of the Maison du Festival is a museum of the jazzfest, which includes the aged upright piano of Daisy Peterson, teacher of her brother Oscar and also of Oliver. Oliver often remembers lurking by Daisy's house, listening to Oscar practise.

    Through the years, Oliver has played some of the most purely enjoyable concerts of FIJM. Especially after he "retired" about a dozen years ago.

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    He's been back pretty much every festival since then. Playing solo concerts. Playing trio concerts. Playing duets with just-turned-90 Hank Jones. Playing duets to climax the last festival concert of his life-long friend Oscar.

    Oscar Peterson Oliver Jones

    And most memorable for me was the last of his "Invitation" "farewell" concerts all those years ago. I'll never forget when, after a lovely solo recital, he thanked the audience for his musical life, and then he asked in his always friendly Franglish, "Mesdames et messieurs, what would you like to hear?"

    Photo by Denis Alix
    Photo by Denis Alix

    Song titles came flying from the house, and Oliver delightedly and delightfully played every request.

    Photo by Denis Alix
    Photo by Denis Alix

    To celebrate his 80th birthday this year, Oliver gathered musical friends at Theatre Maisonneuve. With his trio, always generously spotlighting his long-time bassist Eric Lagace, he played charmingly.

    Photo by Frederic Menard-Aubin
    Photo by Frederic Menard-Aubin

    "Teach Me Tonight." And his own "Looks Good To Me." "We're gonna play some ballads," he said, alternating English and French. "Let's see if any favorites of yours." "When I Fall In Love" segued into favorites aplenty.

    Highlights were pretty much constant. A duet of riffs between Jones and Legace. A favorite classic of his friend Oscar, "Place St. Henri" from Peterson's Canadiana Suite.

    Photo by Frederic Menard-Aubin
    Photo by Frederic Menard-Aubin

    Other friends joined in - singer Ranee Lee, violinist Josee Aidans, pianist Lorraine Desmarais - and then came a surprise for all the Quebecois in the house.

    Ginette Reno is, or has been called, "the Streisand of Quebec." Oliver played piano 20 years ago when she sang a festival jazz concert I'll always remember.

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    Looking elegant, earthy, and ageless, Ginette sang "My Man," the very Fanny Brice classic Barbra sang in Funny Girl — and I was thinking: "Barbra who?"

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    Climactically, out came a teenager, Daniel Clarke Bouchard. A piano prodigy, as if the second coming of Oscar Peterson, the kid showed plenty of Oscar's flabbergasting dexterity with finger-flying boogie woogie and something classical-ish in a duet with Oliver.

    As always for a finale, Oliver heartfully played Peterson's "Hymn To Freedom," and for an encore, the trio played "What a Wonderful World."

    What a wonderful concert…

    Photo by Frederic Menard-Aubin
    Photo by Frederic Menard-Aubin

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