Tear Down Paradise: The Story of 501 Canal Street

One locus of New York’s Free Jazz scene in the early 1970s, the crumbling industrial building that was 501 Canal Street was finally torn down in 1983 and, following the trajectory of Joni Mitchell’s song, became a parking lot for years until a luxury hotel was  built in its place. But in his article for the New York Times, Nabil Ayers recalls that time in his early childhood when the area was dirty, dangerous and drug-ridden but 501 was  a cheap place to live. Ayers was on site because his uncle, saxophonist Alan Braufman, welcomed Ayers and his mother, Braufman’s sister, into the building. Once there, the child witnessed the daily practice routine and weekly concerts of his uncle plus other residents, including such future Jazz luminaries as pianist Cooper-Moore and saxophonist David S. Ware, who also lived in the building. One part of this story is how Valley of Search, Braufman’s and Cooper-Moore’s recently reissued debut LP was actually recorded right in the building.