Marion Brown (September 8, 1931 – October 18, 2010) was a jazz alto saxophonist and ethnomusicologist. He is most well known as a member of the 1960s avant-garde jazz scene in New York City, playing alongside musicians such as John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, and John Tchicai. He performed on Coltrane's landmark 1965 album Ascension.
Brown was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1931. He joined the Army in 1953 and in 1956 went to Clark College to study music. In 1960 Brown left Atlanta and studied pre-law at Howard University for two years. He moved to New York in 1962 where he befriended poet Amiri Baraka and many musicians such as Ornette Coleman, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, Pharaoh Sanders, Paul Bley and Rashied Ali. He appeared on several important albums from this period such as Shepp's Fire Music and New Wave in Jazz, but most notably John Coltrane's Ascension.
In 1967, Brown travelled to Paris, France where he developed an interest in architecture, Impressionistic art, African music and the music of Eric Satie. In the late 1960s, he was an American Fellow in Music Composition and Performance at the Cité Internationale Des Artists in Paris. Around 1970, he provided the soundtrack for Marcel Camus' film Le Temps fou, a soundtrack featuring Steve McCall, Barre Phillips, Ambrose Jackson and Gunter Hampel.
He returned to the US in 1970, where he felt a newfound sense of creative drive. Brown moved to New Haven, Connecticut to serve as a resource teacher in a child study center in the city's public school system until 1971. He composed and performed incidental music for a Georg Büchner play Woyzeck. In 1971, Brown was an assistant professor of music at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, a position he held until he attained his Bachelor's degree in 1974. In addition to this role, he has held faculty positions at Brandeis University (1971–1974), Colby College (1973–1974), and Amherst College (1974–1975), as well as a graduate assistant position at Wesleyan University (1974–1976). Brown earned a Master's degree in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan in 1976. His master's thesis was entitled Faces and Places: The Music and Travels of a Contemporary Jazz Musician.
In 1976 he played alto saxophone on Harold Budd's The Pavilion of Dreams .
Throughout his many educational positions, Brown continued to compose and perform. In 1972 and 1976, Brown received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, which he used to compose and publish several pieces for solo piano, one of which was based on the poetry of Jean Toomer in his book Cane. He also transcribed some piano and organ music by Eric Satie including his Messe Des Pauvres and Pages Mysterieuses, and arranged the composer's Les Fils Des Etoiles for two guitars and violin.
In 1981, Brown began focusing on drawing and painting. His charcoal portrait of blues guitarist Blind Lemon Jefferson was included in a New York City Kenkeleba Gallery art show called Jus' Jass, which also included works by artists such as Romare Bearden, Charles Searles and Joe Overstreet.
By the 2000s, Brown had fallen ill; due to a series of surgeries and a partial leg amputation, Brown resided for a time in a nursing home in New York. By 2005 he had moved from the nursing home to an assisted living facility in Hollywood, Florida.
Marion Brown (Atlanta, Georgia, 8 de septiembre de 1935 – Hollywood, Florida, 18 de octubre de 2010 ) fue un saxofonista alto estadounidense.
Estudió saxofón, clarinete y oboe, además de Ciencias Políticas y Economía, así como Historia de la Música, en la Howard University. Se incorpora a una banda militar de la Armada, hasta su desmovilización (1957), cuando comienza a tocar con Johnny Hodges.
En 1962 se traslada a Nueva York, donde encuentra trabajo en una librería y se incorpora a la Jazz Composers Guild, entrando de lleno en la dinámica del free jazz. Graba junto con John Coltrane y Archie Shepp, y trabaja un tiempo en la orquesta de Sun Ra. Después, se traslada a Europa, donde realiza numerosas grabaciones, entre otros con Jeanne Lee.
De regreso a Estados Unidos, en 1970, se dedica a la enseñanza musical en New Haven, y consigue plaza como profesor en la Facultad de Estudios Afro-americanos, en la especialidad de música negra contemporánea. Durante esa década se dedica a sus trabajos de etnografía musical, especializándose en instrumentos africanos y orientales (Shakuhachi, flautas de bambú, oud...).
Durante los años 80 realiza numerosos conciertos en solitario, y forma su banda The Group.