The Marion Brown Trilogy:
Afternoon of a Georgia Faun
Is the most neglected musician of our time. Some of his very best
work is out of print and almost completely unavailable, and that's a
person Brown is reserved and undramatic, and all the
trends have worked against him. He made a name for himself in the most
extreme 60s avant-garde (playing with Archie Shepp and on Coltrane's
Ascension) but he never has been a big star, and after the
audience for that kind of of thing collapsed in the 70s his
avant-garde reputation did him more harm than good. Furthermore, his
bucolic Trilogy wasn't a good fit with the urban avant-garde scene that did survive. He
has been able to keep
playing and recording in Europe and elsewhere, and he has taught music at
the college level, but he has never received the recognition he deserves.
Afternoon of a Georgia Faun is out of print, and the other two
parts of the trilogy (controlled by
Impulse / Verve) were never even released on CD at all.
criticism is not one of my predilections or skills, but I have to
say something. The three parts of the trilogy are all different, but
they have in common a contemplative, floating kind of movement, without the
urgency of most New York jazz. Often one or a few instruments at a time
come out of silence without a thick ensemble sound, though the
multi-percussion backing can be quite complex. There's an spiritual Afrocentric feeling reminiscent of Alice Coltrane or Pharaoh Sanders
(both contemporaries), but this is a thing in itself in the trilogy,
and is not
flagged with labels. The textures often remind me of
Bartok's "night music", and I am confident that this is no accident.
The New York avant-garde was well aware of Bartok, some of whose
"night music" was written during a summer in North Carolina. Brown, like Bartok, saw himself as a national musician -- his
label for what he was doing was "black classical music".
wouldn't seem too hard for someone to buy the rights to the trilogy
and re-release it. Hopefully this will happen sometime during my
Afternoon of a Georgia Faun,
ECM, 1970: Anthony Braxton, Chick Corea,
Andrew Cyrille, Bennie Maupin, Billy Malone.
Geechee Recollections, Impulse, 1973: Leo Smith, Jumma Santos, James
Jefferson, Steve McCall, Bill Hasson, Billy Malone, A. Kobena
Earth Flying, Impulse, 1974: Paul Bley, Muhal Richard Abrahams, James
Jefferson, Steve McCall, Bill Hasson.
links may still work:
Marion Brown Downloads (Triliogy: "Georgia Fawn", "Sweet Earth",
upon a Time" from Geechee Recollections" (sound quality uncertain)
"Buttermilk Bottom" from Geechee Recollections (sound quality
Marion Brown discography
Nice Guys by the Art Ensemble of Chicago (1978) is in print. In places
it reminds me of Brown.
Interview I /
Interview II /
Brown on Sun Ra / Maupin
on making "Afternoon of a Georgia Faun" /
A few downloads available here /
Sweet Earth Flying (download unavailable /
Afternoon of a Georgia Faun (download unavailable) /
Geechee Recollections (download unavailable) /
Piano versions of Brown (out of print) /
discography, and appreciation /
A jumble of information /
Appreciation I /
I am emersonj at gmail dot com.
Original materials copyright John J