After a career of 70 years playing jazz piano, on every continent in the world, Oliver Jones is finally coming to the Yukon.
“I guess someone up there figured an old man should get up to Whitehorse at least once in his lifetime,” says Jones over the phone from his summer home in Florida.
He tried to retire once, but this year he has 54 dates set up already. Four years ago, he did 84 shows with his two new bandmates.
He has known both since they were as young as nine and he credits them with keeping him alive: “It is very, very hard at my age to motivate myself, but they keep alert as to what is going on.”
Jazz has kept Jones’ interest for 70 years because it is always changing. He says he started during the big band era, and then it was more classical. But since a pianist could not make a decent living playing jazz full-time, he had to involve himself in commercial work and playing pop.
“But since 1980, I’ve been very fortunate to get back to my first love,” says Jones. “And hopefully I can hold on for a few more years.”
Jazz continues to change, he says. “The festivals throughout Canada and the States are getting a lot more musicians from all over the world – India, China, Japan – and they are bringing their musical culture.
“Sometimes it clashes, but it often brings a different flavour and it is interesting.
“We are now producing some very young performers and they are very good,” he says. “The teachers are doing a wonderful job.”
The Yukon Arts Centre, with Jazz Yukon, is presenting the Oliver Jones Trio Tuesday, April 7, at 8 p.m., at the Yukon Arts Centre. Tickets are available at the YAC Box Office and Arts Underground.