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Saturday, March 18, 2023

Alan Braufman - Live in New York City, February 8, 1975 (Valley Of Search, 2022)

By Stef Gijssels

By the end of last year we discussed internally whether we should have a list of "historical albums" that were released in the course of the year, either re-issues, re-masters or new released of as yet unpublished material. Some of us did - I did not for no apparent reason - and their recommended albums can be found here, with a clear preference for Peter Brötzmann, Cecil Taylor and William Parker. 

Other albums were not included, for the simple reason that we had either not received the promo material yet or had not had time to listen to the album. One album we could have included in this list was Alan Braufman's "Live in New York City, February 8, 1975". 

Braufman is not widely known, and - including this one - he actually released only four albums: "Valley of Search" (1975/2018), "The Fire Still Burns" (2020), and "Alan Braufman &  Cooper-Moore – Live at WKCR, May 22, 1972" (2021). He released two other albums under the name Alan Michael, which he still uses today as a music teacher and performer. I learn on Wikipedia that during the 70s and 80s he worked as the saxophonist of such unlikely company of Carla Bley, the Psychedelic Furs and Philip Glass. 

Back to the album now. 

It's a live radio performance recorded at the WBAI Studio in New York, and with a phenomenal band, Alan Braufman on alto saxophone and flute, Cooper-Moore on piano, ashimba and recitation, William Parker on bass, John Clark on French horn, Jim Schapperoew on drums, and Ralph Williams on percussion. This was actually the first time that William Parker and Cooper-Moore met and performed together. 

The great thing about the album is that you get the entire performance, almost unedited, with the announcements by host Susan Mannheimer, who also encourages the audience to be generous for attending the recording session. The result is 94 minutes of music, available on a double CD or as 3 LPs with five sides. 

The beginning of the performance is actually a complete new rendition of "Valley of Search", containing the following compositions: "Rainbow Warriors", "Ark Of Salvation", "Little Nabil's March", "Destiny" "Chant", "Thankfulness", "Love Is For Real", "Forshadow". It's an interesting exercise to compare both albums. 

Cooper-More and the rest of the percussionists also play one traditional, "Ashimba" which also features on David S. Ware's "Apogee", another musician with whom Braufman shared a building at 510 Canal Street in Manhattan in the early 70s, and with whom Cooper-Moore and William Parker performed and released many albums over the years. 

The music is loft jazz and free jazz at its best: exuberant, powerful, energetic, dynamic, relentless, nervous, tribal, without any concern about sophistication or arrangements, as long as it sounded good and created even more energy to move deeper and further. The whole rhythm section is magnificent, with a propulsive power that drives the frenetic and fierce sax of Braufman wilder and wilder. He sounds like the alto equivalent of Gato Barbieri in his best days. The French horn of John Clark can only be heard sparingly, as if he was uncomfortable to intervene: in the beginning piece of the album and on "Bright Evening", a folksy uptempo dance, and on "The Muse" and "Sunrise" for the finale. 

We get the new tracks are all after a short break, with a variety of musical ideas and influences integrated into the improvisations, and with Braufman switching to flute except for the last two pieces.  There is Cooper-Moore's rhythmic "Emancipation", the joyous "Tree of Life", the tribal "The Muse", the meditative "A Tear And A Smile". The best pieces are the longer explorative pieces, with Braufman on alto, that end the album: "O Nossa Amor", and "Sunrise". 

Like its predecessors, it's a great album and a wonderful time capsule into the loft jazz of the seventies: great songs, strong performance, wonderful energy and authenticity. 

To end with the words of the enthusiastic announcer Susan Mannheimer at the end of the album - remember it's the seventies - "Just love each other and listen to the music". 

Listen and download from Bandcamp