Albert Ayler shocked the world when he arrived on the scene with a freewheeling, highly emotional style that broke all the rules of jazz. He shocked it again when he released this album, on which he sang as well as played, with his otherworldly saxophone surrounded by electric instruments, backup vocalists, a horn section, and a pulsating R&B groove. Long out of print, New Grass demands to be heard again through 21st-century ears.
Mojo (Publisher) - p.p.1423 stars out of 5
-- "[M]uch of the music is joyous and steeped in the raw blues and gospel sounds that shaped the saxophonists's early years. Worth revisiting."
Personnel: Albert Ayler (vocals, tenor saxophone); The Soul Singers (vocals); Seldon Powell (flute, tenor saxophone); Buddy Lucas (baritone saxophone); Joe Newman , Burt Collins (trumpet); Garnett Brown (trombone); Call Cobbs (piano, electric harpsichord, organ); Bill Folwell (bass guitar); Bernard "Pretty" Purdie (drums).
Appearing for the first time on CD in 2005, NEW GRASS is a clear appeal by Albert Ayler for greater commercial accessibility. The album finds him riding familiar R&B grooves, using soulful lead and backup vocals, and in general employing a cleaner, less frenetic sound. Fans of the saxophonist's more radical albums may be taken aback here, but Ayler's yearning, exploratory sax lines are still highly energized (especially on the opening cut), and NEW GRASS proves a good place for listeners who are new to free jazz to familiarize themselves with Ayler's unique style.