WTF?! Wednesdays: Yoko Ono with Ornette Coleman, “AOS” (1968)

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She’s one of the world’s most famous avant-garde performers of all time, not so much because of her works but because of who became her soulmate. For this occasion, let’s back up just a couple of months before Yoko Ono began her lionized/scorned love affair with John Lennon to spotlight an encounter of the musical kind with another living luminary of outlier art, Ornette Coleman.

“AOS” is on Ono’s Plastic Ono Band LP but wasn’t part of the 1970 sessions that made up the rest of that album; it came from a rehearsal tape for a show at the Albert Hall with Coleman and his band on February 29, 1968. This is an odd band even by Coleman’s standards, as along with Ed Blackwell on drums there’s both of Coleman’s best bass players from the 60s on board, Charlie Haden and David Izenzon. And Coleman, not on his usual plastic sax but on trumpet.

Now, I’m not a fan of Ono’s caterwauling but somewhat surprisingly, she combines with Coleman’s crew pretty naturally on “AOS.” While Coleman plays trumpet, Ono uses her wordless voice for much of the song like a saxophone. It’s calm, but with that sense of foreboding that warns listeners to brace themselves. Sho’ ’nuff, at about the four minute mark, she finally lets loose with yells that sound like one pissed off grackle but mercifully, it doesn’t last long and the song reverts back to its peaceful state.

I’m not sure what those three letters that make up the song title stands for; one theory is that it refers to the acronym for the celebrated LSD master chef Augustus Owsley Stanley III. Which, in that case, would make this at least the second song about that guy. The other Owsley-themed song is much better known…

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron

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