The Atlanta-born Brown was generally considered to be one of the least classifiable musicians in the New Thing of the 60s. Although he had played on some of the most feverish sessions of the era, including Coltrane’s apocalyptic Ascension and Shepp’s Fire Music, his own albums revealed (for the most part) a cooler, more thoughtfully explorative player, described by one critic as "Albert Ayler’s antipole". Brown saw himself as a non-aligned, apolitical, earthbound musician: "When I play, I don’t play about the universe or religion or love or hate or soul."
After contributing to John Coltrane’s final sessions for Impulse on which he replaced Pharoah Sanders in the Coltrane Quartet, Marion Brown headed for Europe where he worked with a shifting cast of Europeans and American expatriates, the list including Barre Phillips, Gunter Hampel, Jeanne Lee, Han Bennink, Maarten Altena, Karl Berger. In Paris, he also played with emissaries of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, come to spread the word about the "Great Black Music" taking shape in Chicago: these travellers included Leo Smith, Leroy Jenkins and Anthony Braxton. Amongst the new ideas that the AACM players were propagating was the concept of the redistribution of the role of rhythm in the music; there was much application of "little instruments", used variously to imitate nature (leaves rustling in the wind etc), to paraphrase African concepts of collective music-making, and (acknowledging Cage´s ideas about the use of percussion) to bring a neo-aleatoric patina to controlled improvising. All of these uses can be heard on Afternoon Of A Georgia Faun, recorded by Brown in August 1970 after his return from Europe. He was smitten with the "little instruments" in this period; they played a central role in his discography until 1973’s Geechee Reflections, after which he was to return, all but exclusively, to the alto saxophone. As he was to say later, "I came heavily under the influence of Leo Smith. He turned me on to a lot of things. How much music there was in the environment. Making instruments, things like that. I tried to play as many instruments as I could because that’s what he was doing, and I wanted to be equal to him." (Interview in the book Marion Brown: Recollections, Frankfurt, 1984)
On Georgia Faun – on which Smith’s influence is plainly felt, though the trumpeter himself is absent – Brown had everybody double on percussion. Andrew Cyrille´s assured drums are at the heart of the music on "Djinji’s Corner", although there is little or no "time" to be played; on the periphery are the intuitive, almost random contributions of non-musicians Green, Malone and Curtis, provocatively added to the session by the leader. In between, an "all-star" cast (at least from today’s perspective) – Braxton, Corea, Lee, Maupin – makes some extraordinary music. Brown’s alto intertwines with Braxton’s and Marion is also heard on the zomari, a double-reed instrument from Tanzania. Of particular interest is the collaboration between Corea and Braxton – one can hear the seeds of their band-to-be, Circle, being sown in the collective improvising of Georgia Faun. Corea´s contribution was summed up by Brown as „like oriental poetry. Precise, simple, yet profound.“
Marion Brown has always taken the position that his music has no "meaning" outside itself: "You can take from it only what you bring to it. I don’t play words."