An acclaimed New York jazz musician has been living quietly in Utah for decades. Now, he’s ready to make noise again.

Alan Braufman, born in Brooklyn and living in Salt Lake City, will release ‘Infinite Love Infinite Tears’ on May 17.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Local "hidden" jazz great - Alan Braufman is pictured at his home in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 6, 2024. His new album coming out on May 17 is called “Infinite Love Infinite Tears.”

Alan Braufman, who’s been making jazz music for 50 years, says he got his taste in jazz from his mother.

His mother, Braufman said, listened to such artists as John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and Eric Dolphy. When he was 10, growing up in Brooklyn, Braufman went with his mom to see Duke Ellington’s band play. Braufman is now 72 and living in Salt Lake City.

“That’s the music I grew up listening to,” Braufman said. “I would hear pop music on the radio and that was cool, but this was way above that.”

Braufman is credited as one of the legends of New York’s “free jazz” movement, though he’s lived in Utah for some 30 years. The musician, who plays alto saxophone and flute, has a new album being released on Friday: “Infinite Love Infinite Tears.”

Critics who have heard the new album say it represents the welcome return of a master of “free jazz,” the subgenre that allows for more solo improvisation.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Local "hidden" jazz great - Alan Braufman at his home in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 6, 2024. His new album coming out on May 17 is called “Infinite Love Infinite Tears.”

The album features six joyous tracks, punctuated by exuberant horns and scattered drums, clocking in at just over 40 minutes. The longest track is the last one, “Liberation,” one of the standouts. So is “Edge of Time,” which is equally big and bold in sound.

The title track is a thoughtful ode, rich and melodic, though also one of the album’s shorter tracks. It has a sad quality to it, Braufman said — though, he added that he didn’t have any particular subject matter in mind when he wrote it.

“I like the sound of it,” he said. “It kind of felt like that’s what it was saying: Love and tears are completely intertwined. You won’t have grief without love.”

Braufman said the album process officially started in May 2023, but he had been thinking about it long before that. The group (a combo that included Patricia Brennan on vibraphone, Ken Filiano on bass, James Brandon Lewis on tenor sax, Chad Taylor on drums and Michael Wimberly on percussion) didn’t get together to record until November, and during that time, Braufman said he thought about it for a while and wrote some new stuff.

“To me, it feels fresh and alive, and that’s what I was going for,” he said.

Early reviews have been positive. DownBeat magazine’s Veronica Johnson wrote that the album “highlights [Braufman] commanding attention once again through slick improvisation and harmonically pleasing phrases.”

And a review in the British music magazine Mojo said that “with subtle nods to John Coltrane and Don Cherry, Braufman’s spiraling, uplifting compositions occupy an evolving space where jazz’s past and future collide.”

Rediscovery and new inspirations

Braufman was born in Brooklyn in 1951, and attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston. There he met musicians he would perform with in New York in the 1970s, forming what’s been called the “free jazz community” there. Over his career, he’s recorded with such artists as saxophonist Richard Landry, bassist Cecil McBee, avant-garde composer Philip Glass and the post-punk band The Psychedelic Furs.

He moved to Utah in the 1990s, after meeting his wife, Shannon, here. The couple lived in New York for a while, then decided to move back to Salt Lake City.

Braufman has a close relationship with his nephew, Nabil Ayers, who works in the music industry; Ayers held a prominent job for several years with the British music label 4AD. The two men share a bond of family ties and music.

Braufman got Ayers a drum set when he was 2½ years old and they played duets together, with Braufman on saxophone. There’s even a cassette tape, with a “Sesame Street” theme, of the two of them playing together from 1975, when Ayers was three.

“He taught me a lot about music,” Ayers said. “He would teach students all day sometimes in New York when I was a kid, and I would sit there and listen to six lessons in a row, so it was just always around. And then when I was older, Alan would take me to concerts, and buy me records.” (Today, Ayers has a sprawling record collection in his office.)

Ayers also exposed his uncle to a lot of music, Braufman said, because he’s a rock music guy.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Local "hidden" jazz great - Alan Braufman’s first LP, released in 1975 under the iconic jazz label India Navigation Company, lies among other records at his home in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 6, 2024. His new album coming out on May 17 is called “Infinite Love Infinite Tears.”

In 2018, Ayers re-released Braufman’s 1975 debut album, “Valley of Search” — an album that originally came out when Ayers was three.

Braufman said that when he was working on that album, he was 23, and the music got by on “youthful exuberance.” At the time, he said, he was living in a building at 501 Canal Street — in the neighborhood now known as Tribeca.

“It was early enough that I wouldn’t even call [it] that yet. There was just nothing there. It was wonderful before it got all gentrified,” he said. “We had a storefront in the first floor where we used to have concerts on the weekends and then go down there, practice 24/7 and that’s where we recorded the album.”

In 2016, Ayers said, he got to see his uncle perform with one of his original collaborators on that album, the pianist Cooper-Moore. They were performing at a music school in East Harlem.

“It was the first time I’d seen the two of [them] play together, probably since I was five years old,” Ayers said. “When I just posted a couple clips on Facebook, just for fun, a couple of people that I knew posted comments like, ‘Whoa, Cooper-Moore’ and ‘I didn’t realize Alan Braufman was your uncle.’”

Ayers said the original album was like a private press record, something that “only a handful of people know about.” He began looking around and found a YouTube rip-off of the album with 10,000 plays. The audio database Discogs had a copy of it for sale for $100.

“I had no idea that this has become this sort of like legendary, sought-after record,” Ayers said.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Local "hidden" jazz great - Alan Braufman poses for a portrait at his home in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 6, 2024. His new album coming out on May 17 is called “Infinite Love Infinite Tears.”

Since he worked at a record company, Ayers thought it would be a good idea to reissue the album and give listeners a better version. The re-release received widespread acclaim — such as Rolling Stone’s David Fricke naming it one of the best “under-the-radar reissues” of that year.

The resurgence of interest also inspired Braufman to record a new album, “The Fire Still Burns,” in 2020, which featured a reunion with Cooper-Moore. More rave reviews followed; Pitchfork’s Marc Masters called the tracks on it “a sturdy suite that nods vigorously toward jazz history while sounding as fresh and immediate as a concert happening right in front of you.”

With “Infinite Love Infinite Tears,” Braufman said that he wanted, within the “niche of free jazz,” to “make an album that is very unusual.”

“You listen to the album, and later on in the day, you wind up humming melodies from the album because it’s a very melodic album, which a lot of jazz is not,” he said. “I’m proud of all the writing on the album.”