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Yoko, Laurie Anderson and Cyndi Lauper after Yoko's gig at the Japan Society

The Japan Society gig by The NY Times (Nov 13th 2000)

"We know that our cells are speaking to each other," said Yoko Ono, beginning her Thursday night performance at the Japan Society. She mentioned a scientific study in which a skin sample scraped from the mouth of a subject responded to images he viewed in another room. This proved, Ms. Ono said, that consciousness reaches beyond our brains.

This was one way into one theme that unites Ms. Ono's vast musical output: the translation of the Eastern philosophy of loving kindness into visceral terms. Casual observers might associate her music with abrasive avant-gardism, but she invokes compassion with her noise making. Backed by a fine band of downtown club stalwarts, she offered a suite of songs exploring pain and transcendence from several perspectives and resolved in a characteristic affirmation of hope in the face of life's continuing crises.

The songs, most of which appear on a disc included in the catalog for "Yes Yoko Ono," the Japan Society's current retrospective of her work, fell between her improvisations of the early 1970's and the New York rock of her excellent 1995 album, "Rising." She offered a reprise of the title track of that album as a stirring crescendo to "The Paths," which began as a dead child's prayer and evolved through the mutterings of a man who might have been a victimizer. These and other songs mixed Ms. Ono's simple lyrics with her striking vocal improvisations, guttural whoops and crackles that recall the flesh speaking beyond words.

Even when her wailing reached its highest pitch, Ms. Ono sensitively blended with the subtle work of her band. Chris Maxwell on guitar and Zeena Parkins on electric harp gamely traded phrases with Ms. Ono on most songs as the rhythm section of Erik Sanko and Philip Hernandez kept the pace between funk and blues.--"

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