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There exists shockingly little writing on Marion Brown, who, despite a diverse and powerful output of music, texts and artwork, is mostly remembered as ‘one of the saxophonists on [Coltrane’s seminal] Ascension’. It is unlikely that Brown would be too disappointed with that association but to view Brown only through the lens of late Coltrane is to do him a disservice. Not least because Brown ‘directly influenced’ Ascension itself. It is difficult to suggest that Brown is appreciated fully when many encyclopaedias get his birthdate wrong. Consistently, Brown found himself at the centre of the cultural vortexes of Black Nationalism, Civil Rights, the New Thing and other immeasurable cultural shifts. The analytical void that engulfs Brown is thus baffling not owing to any exteriority or alterity, but because he was such a central figure, connected in many ways to many epoch-defining events (musically and culturally). This paper aims towards redressing the tension between Brown’s blatant cultural impact and the dearth of critical analysis of his work.
This paper will take Brown’s musical and academic roles as stimuli in examining Brown’s central absence symbolising of as-yet unresolved institutional intervention, since Brown had to negotiate his central identities through the institutions in which he worked. The paper will go on to suggest artistic means of institutional dissolution and Self rupture understood as philosophical creation-as-criticism, echoed in the academic roles of Anthony Braxton. Brown is not alone in taking this path; through this new prism we can begin rehabilitating scores of under/over-looked musicians.

James Wood is a musician, academic and writer who has performed across the world. He has had poetry published in The Moth, Kindling Journal and The Looking Glass. In 2017 he was shortlisted for the National Poetry Competition. In 2014 he won (with Donkey Zoo) the Cheltenham Jazz Festival Award for best new band. In 2017 he was awarded the Vinson Award from the University of York for academic excellence. He is currently studying for his PhD at the University of Leiden and is an affiliate member of ARC (Art_Research_Convergence).

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