Given its gilded catalogue, India Navigation was a label from which one could ‘buy blind’ without sometimes knowing a particular artist on its roster. Alan Braufman is a case in point. Precious little information exists on the multi-reed player, but the most salient fact is that he was, for a brief time at least, part of a cohort of New Yorkers who duly gathered around the lower Westside hub of 501 Canal Street, a building that was taken over by Berklee students who could afford the cheap rent in a city yet to face the relentless artist-unfriendly onslaught of modern gentrification.
Backed by pianist Cooper-moore, drummer David Lee, percussionist Ralph Williams and double bassist Cecil McBee, Braufman made this recording in 1975, and its re-mastering and reissue more than justify the cult status acquired over the years. The group makes similarly taut, tough and fiery music to Braufman’s more well-known labelmates – think Arthur Blythe, Pharoah Sanders or David Murray – yet the leader is a highly impressive presence, whether on alto sax, flute or the less common pipe horn.
He is in step with a generation of players who stayed true to acoustic, post-Trane sounds as many of their peers went the way of fusion. Unplugged it may be but Valley of Search nonetheless generates a fair amount of crackling, arresting electricity.
Alan Braufman, Valley of Search (India Navigation)