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Brown grew up in Chicago and attended Wilson College, where he met musicians such as Jack DeJohnette, Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, and Joseph Jarman. He played piano in R&B and soul outfits into the 1960s, then switched to saxophone in 1965. He joined the AACM in 1971, and also played with The Awakening in the early 1970s. In 1974 he lost several teeth in a car crash, and temporarily switched to piano again until he recovered. He played sax later in the 1970s with McCoy Tyner, Don Patterson, and Sonny Stitt. In the 1980s, he worked with Lester Bowie, Von Freeman, Bobby Watson, and Anthony Braxton, and in 1989 he became a member of Kahil El'Zabar's trio.
With The Awakening
With Elvin Jones Jazz Machine
With the Ritual Trio
With Orbert Davis
With the Juba Collective
With the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic