“A man walking into the future backwards”: Marion Brown, the American South, and ‘Afternoon of a Georgia Faun’

“It’s high time for a re-assessment of the work of Artist X.” ‘Re-assessment’; ‘re-appraisal’ – these words imply that something has been (unjustly) forgotten, and hence that it must be discovered anew. What, then, is the catalyst for such a process? What makes us (critics, listeners, musicians) suddenly pay attention, having ignored the forgotten object for so long? Sadly, it seems that sometimes it takes the death of a great artist for us to really pay proper attention to what they created during life. And it’s noticeable that the alto saxophonist, ethnomusicologist, composer and writer Marion Brown, who passed away on October 18th 2010, is still most frequently mentioned as ‘one of the saxophonists who played on John Coltrane’s Ascension’ – this despite the fact that he subsequently produced an impressive body of work arguably equal to that of any of the major artists who came to prominence during the flourishing ‘New Thing’ movement of the ’60s and ’70s. True, he had barely played in the last couple of decades, due to ill-health and some disastrous medical procedures, and his straightahead jazz work from the late 70s and through the eighties, while pleasant and melodic, lacked the structural and emotional range of his more experimental period. True also that almost all of his recordings were out of print, though most had become available, in recent years, on music-sharing blogs, and had perhaps even extended their influence to the world of left-field rock music: a few years ago, the band His Name is Alive released a surprisingly effective (and affecting) album consisting solely of Brown’s compositions, combining African percussion withswampy, droning electric guitars and pianos and free jazz horn parts in a way that was both faithful to the spirit of the original music and willing to take it in different directions. In any case, I know that, over the past few years, before and after the release of that tribute album, I have returned again and again to Brown’s recordings, which so generously, so easily give up their riches – accessible on first listen, but with a depth that rewards deeper and further digging, re-listening, re-appraisal, re-assessment.

Despite his neglect, Brown was certainly as good an improviser as the better-known ‘New Thing’ musicians Archie Shepp (an early friend and mentor) and Pharoah Sanders. All along though, and despite overtly free jazz work with Burton Greene and in his own group with Alan Shorter[1], he wasn’t so much ‘New Thing’ as into his own thing – a good dose of classical influence, an interest in ethnic musics (which, admittedly, Sanders and Shepp shared), and, above all, a sparer approach than the other two musicians. Whereas Shepp and Sanders were well capable of emoting to great effect (the prelude section to ‘Creator has a Master Plan’, or Shepp’s gorgeous, impressionistic reading of ‘In a Sentimental Mood’ (from ‘On this Night’, 1965)), Brown was more understated, relying on the carefully chosen phrase, on clear motivic development rather than the pure sound/smear/scream tactic. This approach can be heard at its purest on his two solo saxophone recordings from the late 70s and early 80s, ‘Solo Saxophone’ and ‘Recollections – Ballads and Blues for Alto Saxophone’. The solo concert was a context in which he played often, at small local engagements with perhaps twenty or thirty people in the crowd, and this perhaps accounts for the relaxed feel to the music. Here, Brown is not so much concerned with ‘playing free’ or ‘being innovative’ as with simply playing, standards mostly. It’s almost as if he were practicing in a back room, woodshedding, revisiting the familiar melody, thinking about it as he plays – picking up, for example, on connections between Ellington’s ‘Black and Tan Fantasy’ and ‘Ask Me Now’, the latter appended as a little coda to the end of the former in a way that sound spontaneous rather than pre-planned. (I’m reminded here of Anthony Braxton’s approach to standards on his Piano Quartet recordings of the mid-90s, where the tunes flow into one another, medley-style: improvisation as a method of melodic thinking that harks back to the earliest developmental stages of jazz, where the solo was an extension of the original tune – a counter-melody, or succession of counter-melodies, fitted well within the original contours of the piece.)

In some ways, though, that solo recording is something of something of an anomaly in Brown’s recorded work, for his finest music invariably focuses very much on a group ethic – it’s the sound of the whole band that one remembers after the music stops, as much as it is the playing of the leader. This is not achieved through free, collective blowing, but through compositional and organizational strategies similar to those adopted by the AACM (with whose members Brown often played, though he was never a fully-fledged member), or through a loose, groove-based approach that seems to derive at least in part from jazz fusion. The result is a special kind of atmosphere – that intangible quality which critics love to harp on about, perhaps as an excuse not to have to delve into the technical details of how said ‘atmosphere’ is actually accomplished – that ‘grain’ which gives Brown’s music its special ‘voice’. Listen: it’s there when he takes elements of the keyboard-rich sound found on early Miles Davis fusion – all those twinkling electric piano melodies and chordal textures – to build something that’s soothingly lovely, static and hovering (‘Sweet Earth Flying’); it’s there when, with different instrumentation, he conjures up the wonderful, hazy, late-summer, small-town feel of a piece like ‘Karintha’ from ‘Geechee Reccollections’; and it’s there when he presents a challengingly indeterminate (though in fact, carefully organized) avant-garde soundscape on ‘Afternoon of a Georgia Faun’ – music which seems to be half-asleep, yet is crafted with subtly shifting, delicate improvisational care.

Perhaps it has something to do with Brown’s Southern background. Born in Georgia, he moved to New York City where the ‘jazz revolution’ was in progress, but never forgot his regional roots. Archie Shepp, who also moved from the South up to New York, where he met Brown, commented: “We bonded, in a way. We were both from small towns in the South. Most of my close friends, in general, were African Americans born in the North. It was quite fortuitous meeting Marion. He reminded me of people I grew up with. He always held onto his southern drawl, but had an enormous intellect and spirit.”[2]

This is not simply a romanticised American primitivism, contrasting with the city sophistication of, say, Cecil Taylor – indeed, the title of Brown’s record ‘Afternoon of a Georgia Faun’ specifically invokes the urbane Claude Debussy, in whose music ‘nature’ is the ‘nature’ of the Parisian city-dweller’s boat trips and river-side picnics, or of an idealised classical arcadia, rather than the ‘nature’ of genuine rural experience. What Brown is doing is to apply the dreamy, symbolist languor of turn-of-the-century French impressionist classical music to his own Southern childhood – a life, let us speculate, that was governed by changes in the weather and the seasons, by an engagement with light and shade, with touch and taste and sight and smell rather than the adrenaline and stimulant buzz of the city – a life with something ‘unreal’ about it, something undefined, hazy, dreamy, even surreal; alright, a life that was never quite like this, with hardships and injustices that are present within the dream, but downplayed, receding into the background of an imaginative and partly imaginary dreamscape. Importantly, this is the South as recalled from the North, from the big city, the ‘Big Apple’ (and even from abroad – Brown lived in Paris from 1967-1970[3]), drawing on the resources of memory to create a quasi-mythology with which to contrast life as it is lived in the metropolis, a means of coping with that pain, that sense of awkwardness and uncertainty to which early blues lyrics so often attest: “I’d rather drink muddy water and sleep in a hollow log/ Than go up to New York City and be treated like a dirty dog.” [4] The blues, in all its different forms – the country blues, the town blues, the town-and-country blues;[5] not so much the blues as form (Shepp and even Ayler were far more obviously blues and R-&-B based players than Brown (check out Ayler’s ‘Drudgery’)), but the blues as feeling – the blues as a reflection of life. Brown was quoted thus in the liner notes to Porto Novo: “My reference is the blues, and that’s where my music comes from. I do listen to music of other cultures, but I just find them interesting. I don’t have to borrow from them. My music and my past are rich enough. B.B. King is my Ravi Shankar”. [6]

One might argue that this thesis is somewhat tenuous – I may be applying an inaccurate process of imaginative transformation to Brown’s childhood – and one might not immediately conceive the mid-60s free jazz dates for ESP as specifically ‘Southern’ or musics in this way. And yet, listen to the last track, ‘Homecoming’, on ‘Why Not’, with its almost Charles Ivesian melody. African-American music was always a melting pot – Afro-Cuban percussion melded to marching-band instruments, ‘streetwise’ sensibilities that would later manifest themselves into hip-hop culture melded to music derived from rural worksongs – and Brown’s music makes full use of this diversity in order to reflect on where he has come from and where he is now at.[7] After all, it’s not as if the memory of the South just disappeared, was simply swallowed up into new Northern, urban forms of African-American popular music – think of the popularity of Ray Charles singing ‘Georgia on My Mind’ in 1960. And it’s not simply a case of nostalgia, either: as fellow Georgian Lars Gotrich notes in his online appreciation of Brown,

“He stayed in Georgia long enough to see the Confederate stars and bars added to the state flag at the height of desegregation[…] Like its soul food, Georgia’s history is lush and cooked down, yet brutal in its lumbering wake. It’s near impossible to reconcile what came and what is to come with a state that only in the last decade removed the Dixie from its flag. It is our heritage, yes. And in an odd way, those of us who’ve struggled with those issues are proud still.”[8]

This curious mixture of dreaminess and pain, sensuality and brutality finds its way into Toni Morrison’s fiction, and it finds its way into Brown’s music: thoughts and feelings that are as much tied to the weather, to the soil, (‘roots’ music) as they are to people and their relations with each other – sensations that can’t be ‘pinned down’, but reached and evoked through paradox, metaphor, suggestion.

Brown was heavily influenced by the writer Jean Toomer, and the word ‘bittersweet’ barely suffices as a description of Toomer’s exquisite evocation of a storm, from the poem that gave its name to Brown’s album ‘Sweet Earth Flying’: “Thunder blossoms gorgeously above our heads […] Bleeding rain / Dripping rain like golden honey.”[9] The storm is figured as a flower, as a bleeding human, or animal, and as a supernatural provider of food (like manna from heaven); an overabundance of metaphor and simile, like the abundance of water with which the clouds refresh the earth, like the simultaneous upsurge of feelings at the sight of its approach; an almost sexual sense of sky and ripeness – “Full-lipped flowers/ Bitten by the sun” – that reaches towards the kind of understanding found in mythologies, creation myths, old wives’ tales, magic, folklore, rather than towards that found in western, rationalist scientism. Music is the perfect vehicle for this evocative illogic, with its resource to the suggestiveness of sound, sound that does not need to be encumbered by direct explanation (though often Brown uses words – poetic recitation – and human voices – whispers, sighs – as an essential and sensual part of his music). Here we return once more to Debussy – his languorous ‘L’Après-Midi d’un Faune’, his portraits of the sea, of sunken cathedrals, joyous islands – or the dreamscape of ‘Péleas et Mélisande’ – not so much fulfilling the Romantic fad for ‘programme music’ (which would subsequently translate itself into the mimetic world of the Hollywood soundtracks), as evoking a general sense of place (hence the fact that he could title pieces of music, a non-visual art form, ‘Images’). One might argue that Brown has a comparatively direct approach that Debussy lacks, but then again, it’s probably not all that helpful to draw too direct a correlation between the two. As Cecil Taylor remarked when a fan compared his playing to Ravel’s Sonatine: “Why don’t you talk about Duke Ellington and Bud Powell?”[10]

Instead, let’s talk about Jean Toomer, whose words we have already quoted and briefly discussed. Brown’s ‘Georgia Trilogy’ (Afternoon of a Georgia Faun (1970), Geechee Recollections (1973), and Sweet Earth Flying (1974) – I’d also include Poems for Piano (1979), in which Amina Claudine Myers plays Brown’s Toomer-inspired compositions, and November Cotton Flower, from the same year) derives much of its inspiration from the seminal modernist ‘novel’ Cane, a work where prose and poetry are not so much juxtaposed as melted into each other in a languid evocation of the South that seems to have struck a chord with Brown’s own up-bringing; where images cluster like grapes, building up in liquid globs, at once sharply distinct and hazy, subject to change at any moment, like (again the simile) the passing storm looming, opening overhead, then passing once more.

Brown’s use of Cane is several-fold: on the one hand, its atmosphere is apt, apposite, similar to that of his own music; furthermore, this atmosphere has very personal, autobiographical resonances with Brown’s own Georgia childhood; in addition, drawing from a literary text (Bill Hasson recites a section from the book on ‘Geechee Recollections’) reflects Brown’s intellectual bent (he was a “running buddy” of the poet LeRoi Jones, appearing in a minor role in the first production of Jones’ play ‘Dutchman’, and contributing essays and record reviews to several publications[11]). White critics often argued (particular in relation to the music of Ornette Coleman), that free jazz was in some way a ‘primitive’ form of expression, bypassing thought in order to directly access feeling;[12] here we see the legacy of the Beats, the notion that African-Americans and their music somehow represented a ‘primitive’ state, preferable to the cynicism and ‘sophistication’ of nuclear white America. While such arguments may have been well-intentioned in the latter case, later critics often put a negative spin on them, and the racial connotations were patronising and potentially harmful. Thus, Brown’s employment of Toomer, as well as his articulate commentary on his own and other’s music, helped to mitigate against the erroneous notion of the untutored ‘Negro’, playing purely from feeling, with little or no training or compositional awareness. According to Nathaniel Mackey,

“One of the things that Marion Brown said about the new music of the sixties is that he sensed that many of the people who were bothered by the music and were reacting against it were bothered by the level of abstraction of the music and the way in which that level of abstraction being engaged in by black musicians diverged from and called into question certain notions regarding black people’s relationship to abstraction, the idea that black people, if not in fact incapable of abstraction, tend to shy away from it in the direction of the immediate, the physical, the athletic, the performative.”[13]

Brown’s music is very much preoccupied with feelings, and moods – all those subjective qualities which at once account for music’s sensual and unique power, and risk reducing it to something ephemeral and purely subjective – but it is preoccupied with these in a thoughtful way, as part of a theoretical, intellectual consideration that encompasses the social and the spiritual in a fairly direct manner. Brown isn’t simply using Toomer’s work as a decorous hook on which to hang his music and to give it some literary clout; instead, he has a specific set of intellectual concerns, many of which overlap with those of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). In 1970, Brown recorded a series of duets with AACM member Wadada Leo Smith, a musician whose rural experience also informed his work (for instance, the solo guitar piece ‘Bardsdale’), and a large group session entitled ‘Afternoon of a Georgia Faun,’ released on the then fledgling label ECM, which, though it has come to be associated with a specifically ‘European’ sound in recent years, was initially just as committed to recording experimental work by American artists (another important early ECM release is the Bennie Maupin album ‘The Jewel in the Lotus’)).

Michael Kelly Williams, ‘Afternoon of a Georgia Faun’ (1985)

It’s worth examining ‘Faun’ in depth: the most experimental of Brown’s works, it is also one of the richest in terms of its conceptual underpinnings. Indeed, an entire book, entitled ‘Afternoon of a Georgia Faun – Views and Reviews’, was dedicated to the album and published in 1973 (like ‘Recollections’, a collection of Brown’s writings which came out in 1984, this is out-of-print and extremely rare). Brown was not simply ‘making a record’, ‘laying down a few tunes’ for jukebox airplay: these were lengthy soundscapes for which the term ‘jazz’ seemed out-dated. They might not have existed without jazz, but they could not be constrained by the word, by the label ‘jazz’, or, at least, by the way in which critics and listeners sought to use that label in order to enforce and constraint a certain fixed idea of the music. Instead, things mix and merge, like the ‘eight-hour dialogues’ Brown remembers having with his fellow musicians, in which “stories go in and out of each other like Bach’s counterpoint.”[14] Dialogue and the sounded voice turn out to be particularly apposite on ‘Faun’ – while the spoken word itself would not appear until Bill Hasson’s recitations on the following two albums in the ‘Georgia Trilogy’, the vocalizations of Jeanne Lee and Gayle Palmoré do function as a kind of wordless prelude to those recitations (‘Prélude a l’après-midi…’); once more that merging, that suggestive blurring of boundaries, between voice and instrument, between speech and music. Between ‘professional’ and ‘amateur’ musicians too: the second piece, ‘Djinji’s Corner,’ adapts a practice from Ghanaian music, in which a core of skilled musicians is supplemented by community members with lesser ability. Thus, the main band of six instrumentalists is supplemented by a team of three ‘assistants’ who use various percussive devices and implements, some of them invented by Brown. While Andrew Cyrille, Anthony Braxton, Bennie Maupin, Chick Corea, Jeanne Lee and Jack Gregg and can be considered virtuoso practitioners of their respective instruments, here their sonic status is often the same as that of performers who might not even be considered ‘musicians’ in the normal sense: a democratic, if not communistic, openness that anticipates experimental projects such as the Portsmouth Sinfonia and the Scratch Orchestra, initiated by British free improvisers during the 60s and 70s. For Brown, this is an affirmation of the value of improvisation as the equal of composition: unlike composition, it allows anyone to communicate and jointly participate in a musical experience. Furthermore, as Brown hints when he talks about “mutual cooperation at a folk level,” the ‘open’ approach finds ‘avant-garde’ music coming to resemble a kind of imagined folk-music, very different in sound to the traditional folk melodies heard in West Africa, or Georgia, or New York City, where the album was recorded, but possessing a similarly radical means of making. From the liner notes: “Although I am responsible for initiating the music, I take no credit for the results. Whatever they may be, it goes to the musicians collectively.”[15]

Nonetheless, the music is not improvised in a completely free manner; Brown set out an initial structure for the titular first piece, which he described as “a tone poem. It depicts nature and the environment in Atlanta. The vocalists sing wordless syllables. The composition begins with a percussion sections that suggests raindrops – wooden rain drops. The second section is after the rain. Metallic sounds that suggest light.”[16] The poetic descriptions of wooden rain drops and metallic light could have come from Toomer (or perhaps from Surrealism), but they are not there simply as pretty or striking phrases. Rather, Brown shows through them his awareness of the unstable notions here at play, highlighting the uneasy correlation between music and the visual or programmatic (light is not really metallic (unless it reflects off a metal surface), and rain drops cannot be wooden), even as he describes sound in visual terms. (One might also detect in the phrase ‘after the rain’ a reference to the composition by John Coltrane.) Furthermore, this is not simply a case of simple mimesis, of creating ‘nature music’ and ‘scene-painting’ for decorative effect; Brown further comments that the opening ‘raindrops’ section suggests “feelings of loneliness in an imaginary forest of the mind”; a “first person experience” of the world of ghosts and spirits like Amos Tutuola’s Yoruba-inspired ‘My Life in the Bush of Ghosts’, here “told collectively in the musical first person.”[17] These ‘ghosts’ are at once connected to the religion, traditions and ways of seeing of Brown’s African ancestry, and to his memories of everyday childhood experiences and feelings in Georgia; the former, which one might call collective memory, passed down as it is through oral traditions, through stories and reminiscences originating in the experiences of other people, is that which can only be imagined, not directly experienced, the latter, which one might call personal memory, arises from incidents remembered from one’s own life.[18] Personal and collective memories can be drawn together through physical movement and through sound (“mind and body…unified through memory and muscle”[19]) – just as the jazz musician at once plays ‘himself’, his unique and personal style, and beyond himself, by using vocabularies established by his forbears, some of whom are long-dead.

This, then, is another meaning of ‘folk art’ – “by connecting his physical skills as an improviser (that is, his technique) to his cultural memories and identity, [the jazz improviser] asserts that improvisation, as the height of black musical expression, connects the artist to his people.”[20]

If the title track of ‘Georgia Faun’ thus places a certain emphasis on the individual skill and ‘technique’ of the solo improviser (for instance, during Chick Corea’s piano solo during the second section of the piece), the second side of the album evinces a generally more collective approach – it is “structured in such a way…as to all but prevent the dominance of any single idea or of any one player.”[21] In Brown’s words,

“each musician has a station that consists of his primary instrument, secondary instruments and miscellaneous instruments. The players move from station to station playing their instruments as well as other instruments. He remains at the station for a minute, then goes to another station to begin a new phrase, or to continue developing a subsequent phrase. The composition ends with a blast from a whistle after which the players return to their original station to complete the composition.”[22]

In the structured improvisations (‘intuitive music’) of Karlheinz Stockhausen, individual players were very definitely subordinated to the composer’s will; by contrast, the aim here is to achieve a certain general effect or atmosphere, but in a way that emphasizes human interaction and a sense of fun. The ‘nonmusicians’ can make a contribution without negatively impacting on the quality of the music, participating in a collective activity in which the movement between ‘stations’ and the particular method of handling instruments becomes a kind of dance, an improvised exchange of physical objects and positions as well as of sounds. Those with greater skill, with more developed means of personal expression, may take the lead at certain points, but the situation is totally different to that set up by Stockhausen – a set of subordinated performers bending to the wishes of a great genius.

Georgia Faun’ marks the only use of ‘non-musicians’ in Brown’s work, and thus constitutes something of a milestone in his discography, as well as, I would argue, the history of African-American improvised music in general. The parallels and connections between such jazz-derived experiments and the European free improvisation developing at this time are not as often explored as they might be, and certainly suggest a closer and more reciprocal relation between white and black, European and American, than might have been suggested by the racial and cultural rhetoric of the time. After all, many of the most important documents of 1960s and ’70s free jazz were recorded in Europe; and Brown’s own collaborations with European musicians (Gunter Hampel in particular) provide just one instance of the many musical connections and cross-fertilizations that occurred during this period. In any case, Brown’s notion of a “sane sociology of contemporary music”[23] was enacted not only through the specific case of using non-musicians on ‘Afternoon of a Georgia Faun’, but through his attitude to music in general:

“Jazz should be played in stadiums, on baseball fields, in the street…Children love the new music… Children have the imagination you need for the music we play; you can do what you like with it.”[24]

And this is the sense that one gets through much of Brown’s recorded legacy – a sense of possibility, of openness, a sense that music is fully capable of expressing personal, emotional, social and cultural needs; fully capable of working through & reconciling complex issues of geography, tradition, & collectivity; fully capable of addressing the relations between the abstract and the particular, between the oral, the visual and the conceptual. Brown was not alone in dealing with such concerns, but his art marks a particularly rewarding & beautiful manifestation of this task. And yes, it is high time for a re-assessment of his work.

Marion Brown: a masterful musician. Born, September 8, 1931 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Died, October 18th, 2010, in Hollywood, Florida, USA.


[1] Currently available are ‘Marion Brown Quartet’ (download-only, from the ESP-Disk website); ‘Why Not?’, a second quartet recording for the same label, now re-issued on CD; ‘Bloom in the Commune’, a date released under Greene’s leadership and reviewed in the first issue of this magazine; and ‘Live at the Woodstock Playhouse 1965’, a recently discovered live performance,
also with Greene, released on Porter Records earlier this year.
[2] Archie Shepp, quoted in Bob Flaherty, ‘Friends Mourn Jazz Great Marion Brown’, available online at http://www.gazettenet.com/2010/10/22/friends-mourn-jazz-great-marion-brown
[3] See Eric C. Porter, ‘What is this thing called Jazz? African American musicians as artists, critics, and activists’ (University of California Press, 2002), p.247
[4] Quoted in LeRoi Jones, Blues People (New York City; Perennial (Harper Collins), 2002 (1963)), pp.105-6
[5] For a more detailed discussion of the interplay between ‘country’ and ‘city’, North and South, in the development of the blues, see Jones, Blues People, pp.104-110
[6] The same could be applied to the music of the black church; compared to, say, Charles Mingus, Brown is not obviously harking back to such music in his improvisations. Nonetheless, there are echoes, reminiscences, feelings that suggest this background. As Brown puts it, “I’m constantly referring to my past…When I was growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, I went to Church every Sunday. I never really play black spirituals but I translate them into my music. Little bits of melody become footnotes to my past.” (Linda Tucci, ‘The Artist in Maine: Conversation with Marion Brown’, in The Black Perspective in Music, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring, 1973), pp.60-63.)
[7] As Brown puts it, he seeks to convey “a personal view of my past culture…I’m constantly referring to my past…I’m like a man walking into the future backwards.” (Ibid)
[8] Lars Gotrich, ‘Georgia Recollections: Goodbye, Marion Brown’
[9] Jean Toomer, ‘Storm Ending’, in ‘Cane’ (1923)
[10] Gary Giddins, ‘Visions of Jazz’ (Oxford University Press, 1998), p.462
[11] See Eric Porter, ‘What is this Thing Called Jazz?: ’, p.246
[12] See, for example, James Lincoln Collier, ‘The Making of Jazz: A Comprehensive History’
[13] Nathaniel Mackey, ‘Interview by Edward Foster’, in ‘Paracritical Hinge: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews’ (Madison; University of Wisconsin Press, 2005), p.279
[14] Greg Tate, ‘Black-Owned: Jazz Musician Marion Brown and Son Djinji’ (Vibe, November 1994), p.38.
[15] Marion Brown, Liner Notes to ‘Afternoon of a Georgia Faun’ (ECM Records, 1971)
[16] Ibid
[17] Quoted in Eric Porter, ‘What is this Thing called Jazz?’ (op. cit.), p. 249
[18] “My music is a personal view of my past culture. I’m transcribing from one time and place to another. I’ve never been to Africa, you know. These instruments are manifestations of something I’ve never really seen. But through listening to their music and reading, I’ve become a part of their
environment.” (Brown, quoted in Linda Tucci (op. cit.))
[19] Porter (op. cit.)
[20] Ibid
[21] Henry Kuntz, review of ‘Duets’ (Brown/Leo Smith/Elliot Schwartz), http://bells.free-jazz.net/bells-part-one/marion-brown-duets/
[22] Brown, liner notes to ‘Georgia Faun’ (op. cit.)
[23] Quoted in Porter (op. cit.), p.250
[24] Marion Brown, Interview with A. Courneau (Jazz Magazine, No.133, 1966)


  • Marion Brown, Liner Notes, Afternoon of a Georgia Faun (ECM, 1970)
  • Marion Brown, Interview by A. Courneau (Jazz Magazine, No.133, 1966)
  • Gary Giddins, Visions of Jazz (Oxford University Press, 1998)
  • Lars Gotrich, ‘Georgia Recollections: Goodbye, Marion Brown’ (available online at http://www.npr.org/blogs/ablogsupreme/2010/10/19/130669448/marion-brown)
  • LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Blues People (New York City; Perennial (Harper Collins), 2002 (1963))
  • Henry Kuntz, Review of Marion Brown/Leo Smith/Elliot Schwartz, ‘Duets’ (available online at http://bells.free-jazz.net/bells-part-one/marion-brownduets/)
  • Nathaniel Mackey, Interview by Edward Foster, in Paracritical Hinge: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews (University of Wisconsin Press, 2005)
  • Eric C. Porter, What is this thing called Jazz? African American musicians as artists, critics, and activists (University of California Press, 2002)
  • Greg Tate, ‘Black-Owned: Jazz Musician Marion Brown and Son Djinji’ (Vibe, November 1994)
  • Linda Tucci, ‘The Artist in Maine: Conversation with Marion Brown’ (The Black Perspective in Music, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring, 1973))
  • Jean Toomer, Cane (1923)
  • Bob Flaherty, ‘Friends Mourn Jazz Great Marion Brown’, available online at http://www.gazettenet.com/2010/10/22/friends-mourn-jazz-greatmarion-brown

An extremely useful resource in the research for this article was the Marion Brown Discography, compiled by Karl-Michael Schneider and available online at http://discog.piezoelektric.org/marionbrown/

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