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Live: Yoko Ono and Ornette Coleman, Royal Albert Hall, London

During The Beatles’ stay in India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Yoko Ono kept in contact by letter with John Lennon.

On this leap day, 29 February, she appeared onstage at London’s Royal Albert Hall with jazz musician Ornette Coleman. The performance and their afternoon rehearsal were both recorded.

The music was mostly improvised, based on a set of instructions from Ono. The performers were Ono (vocals), Coleman (trumpet), Charlie Haden (bass), Dr David Izenzon (bass), and Ed Blackwell (drums).

One seven-minute piece, AOS, recorded during the rehearsal, appeared on Ono’s first solo album Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band in 1970.

Yoko Ono and Ornette Coleman rehearsal, February 1968

Ornette was already very, very established and famous and respected guy as a musician. And I met him in Paris. The way I met was, I was doing a show and after the show, somebody said, Oh, Ornette Coleman is here and he would like to – okay. Well, hello. Thank you for coming. That kind of thing. And he was saying, Well, okay. So he said that he was going to go and do a concert in Albert Hall and would I come and do it with him because he thought it was kind of interesting what I do.

So that was London, Albert Hall. And I felt that I just kind of said goodbye to London at the time, for many reasons. But mainly because I met John. It had a lot to do with that. And I thought, Okay. I’ll go back and do that because it sounds very special. So I went back to London just to do that, in a way, and also to see my daughter, who’s still in London.

Very complex situation, I don’t want to go into that. And Ornette’s band of musicians were very, very kind to me. And we did a few rehearsals and all that, too. And it was great. It was a great experience.

Yoko Ono, 1997

Ono and Coleman made a number of occasional live appearances together in subsequent years.

Last updated: 29 February 2024
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  1. Jenkins Saturday 30 July 2016

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