Born to Barbadian parents, Oliver Jones began his career as a pianist at the age of five, studying with Mme Bonner in Little Burgundy's Union United Church, made famous by Trevor W. Payne's Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir. He continued to develop his talent through his studies with Oscar Peterson's sister Daisy Peterson Sweeney starting at eight years old. In addition to performing at Union United Church when he was a child, he also performed a solo novelty act at the Cafe St. Michel as well as other clubs and theaters in the Montreal area. "I had a trick piano act, dancing, doing the splits, playing from underneath the piano, or with a sheet over the keys."
He started his early touring in Vermont and Quebec with a band called Bandwagon, and in 1953–63 played mainly in the Montreal area, with tours in Quebec.
From 1964 to 1980 Jones was music director for the Jamaican calypso singer Kenny Hamilton, based out of Puerto Rico.
In late 1980 he teamed up with Montreal's Charlie Biddle, working in and around local clubs and hotel lounges in Montreal. Jones was resident pianist at Charlie Biddle's jazz club Biddles from 1981 to 1986. His first album, Live at Biddles recorded in 1983, was the first record on the Justin Time record label.
By the mid-1980s he was travelling throughout Canada, appearing at festivals, concerts and clubs, either as a solo artist or with a trio: Skip Bey, Bernard Primeau, and Archie Alleyne. His travels also took him to Europe during this period.
His tour of Nigeria was the subject of a 1990 National Film Board of Canada documentary, Oliver Jones in Africa. His music also appears in the NFB animated short film, Black Soul. In 2011 he was one of the big names on the line up of the P.E.I. Jazz and Blues Festival at Charlottetown. Jones was headliner for the Jazz Sudbury Festival 2013, held from Sept. 6-8, 2013.
He taught music at Laurentian University in 1987, and in 1988 he taught music at McGill University in Montreal
In 2009, Jones mentored jazz artist Dione Taylor through the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA) Mentorship Program. The program pairs a mid-career artist with a past GGPAA recipient. The two artists work together to learn and grow from each other's experiences.
In October 1993, Jones was named as an Officer of the Order of Canada.
In 1994 Jones was bestowed the National Order of Québec, with the rank of Chevalier (Knight).
Jones received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award in 2005, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts.
In 1986 Jones won a Juno Award for his album titled Lights of Burgundy, and again in 2009 for Second Time around. He has been nominated 9 other times, the most recent being in 2012, with his album Live in Baden.
Jones has been a multiple recipient of the Félix Award, receiving his first one for his 1989 album Just Friends, and then wins in 1994, 2007 and 2008.
Jones was voted keyboardist of the year, from the National Jazz Awards in 2006.
In 1990 Oliver became the second recipient of the Oscar Peterson Award after Oscar himself. It is presented by the Montreal International Jazz Festival, recognizing a performer's musicianship and for exceptional contribution to the development of Canadian jazz.
In 1999, Jones was awarded the Special Achievement Award at the SOCAN Awards in Toronto.Live at Biddle's Jazz & Ribs 1983The Many Moods of Oliver Jones 1984Lights of Burgundy 1985FIJM 1985Speak Low, Swing Hard 1985Requestfully Yours 1985Cookin' at Sweet Basil 1987Just Friends 1989Northern Summit 1990A Class Act 1991Just 88 1993Yuletide Swing 1994From Lush to Lively 1995Have Fingers Will Travel 1997Just In Time 1998Then And Now 2002Just You,Just Me 2004One More Time 2006Second Time Around 2008Pleased to Meet You 2009A Celebration In Time 2010Live In Baden Switzerland 2011Just For My Lady 2013