Marion Brown: Afternoon Of A Georgia Faun (ECM 1004)

1004

Marion Brown
Afternoon Of A Georgia Faun

Marion Brown alto saxophone, zomari, percussion
Anthony Braxton alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet, contrabass clarinet, chinese musette, flute, percussion
Bennie Maupin tenor saxophone, alto flute, bass clarinet, acorn, bells, wooden flute, percussion
Chick Corea piano, bells, gong, percussion
Andrew Cyrille percussion
Jeanne Lee voice, percussion
Jack Gregg bass, percussion
Gayle Palmoré voice, piano, percussion
William Green top o’lin, percussion
Billy Malone african drum
Larry Curtis percussion
Recorded August 10, 1970 at Sound Ideas Studio, New York City
Engineer: George Klabin
Produced by Manfred Eicher

A subtle congregation of clicks, pops, breaths, and whistles eases us into this challenging yet rewarding recording from a rather mobile group of musicians, many of whom—Lee, Braxton, Corea, Maupin, and, of course, Brown himself—are now household names in the avant-garde circuit. Over a brief 35 minutes we are treated to a highly refined sort of music-making that jumps, flies, and slithers its way through a complex forest of sounds. The arrangements are heavy on reeds and percussion, with star turns from one severely abused piano and a smattering of aphasic human voices who seem bent on reducing all communication to wit and circumstance. The music is indeterminate and uncompromising and unleashes its full torrent only in the second movement, “Djinji’s Corner.” Slide whistles, snares, and bass all join in the cacophony as a voice intones, “Listen to me. Can you hear?”—at last giving us some vocabulary to latch on to as we suffocate under a voracious avalanche.

Though not an album for the faint of heart, Afternoon is indicative of the brave decisions ECM was already making on its fourth release, and on it one can finally begin to hear inklings of the space for which ECM would soon come to be known. It is also meticulously recorded. Every detail comes through (for example, when a percussionist picks up bell and rings it, we clearly hear it being placed back down on a cloth-dampened surface). Describing the sound of this album is, I imagine, as difficult as it was to lay it down in the studio. The sheer range of implied space is unfailingly impressive, made all the more so for its utterly organic textures. An absolute masterpiece of free jazz and well worth the chance for the adventurous listener.


Original cover

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