Marion Brown, at one time, was a very close friend of mine. It was during the middle-’60s. I had been living in NYC since 1957, when I got out of the Air Force, moving from the far West Side and transitioning to a loft in Chelsea where I could finish working on my book Blues People. We came to end up together in a weird little building on Cooper Square in the upper Bowery. This part of the Bowery has a more colorful sobriquet because it’s just a couple blocks down from historic Cooper Union.
Living in that same building after awhile was a drama school one floor down, Archie Shepp and family a floor under that, and saxophone player Marzette Watts below him. This was before this was the East Village; I guess it was a more homey, less commercial kind of bohemianism. It seemed more of a neighborhood. Right around the corner from the ancient McSorley’s and a few steps from a Bowery bar, the abstract expressionists neutralized the bums out of a place called the Five Spot.