Aquarium Drunkard: Sidecar/December 2, 2019
Welcome to Sidecar, Aquarium Drunkard's weekly dispatch of audio esoterica, interviews, mixtapes, and cultural ephemera. As always, we're presented by Gold Diggers boutique hotel, bar, and recording studios in East Hollywood, Calif. Want to support AD? Here's how: Patreon. Pledge, get cool stuff, and support independent media. Let's dig in.
Bandcamping: Winter 2019
Bandcamping returns! As the year comes to a close, dig into some more recent/random/recommended offerings via Bandcamp. Put some money in artists’ and labels’ pockets and prepare to have your mind blown.
Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977)
Classic. Rare. Not much more to say. That fancy new streaming service doesn't has it, but we do.
‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Drummer Jerry Granelli: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview
It’s now acceptable to share Christmas music, so here’s our 2017 talk with Vince Guaraldi drummer Jerry Granelli, offering his Buddhist take on the enduring classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas: he whole thing is about a basic goodness. The world is screwed up. I look at my grandkids and I’m like, 'Oh man, I’m sorry.' But there is still human wisdom. There still is human dignity. You get a thousand people in a room and they’re there to feel love. You can feel it. That’s still possible. Buddhism is based on the idea that all humans are basically awake. You have everything you need to live this life and help other people."
Prince: The Beautiful Ones
"Do you believe in cellular memory?" That's a question the late Prince Rogers Nelson asks editor Dan Piepenbring at the start of The Beautiful Ones, which collects the initial start of a memoir via handwritten pages, photographs, notes, and an essay about working with Prince by Piepenbring. Though not the revealing tome it was intended to be, it nonetheless offers a personal look at Prince, whose mystery and creative power lives on.
Lit Up Like a Christmas Tree (A Vintage Holiday Mixtape)
Ah yes, go ahead and inhale the fecund ether of the season. Lit Up Like A Christmascelebrates the, er, other side of seasonal tidings – holiday esoterica from the far corners of vintage jazz, twang, fuzz, scuzz, r&b, blues, country, garage, lounge and beyond. And by beyond, we mean Sun Ra doing a Christmas song.
Both volumes have been re-upped, including the much expanded Spotify versions (that are highly recommended). Stuff your stockings and have a nip of this nog...
Bill Fay: Filled With Wonder Once Again
Despite the apocalyptic tenor of his songs, Bill Fay’s second act has been a triumphant one. On January 17th, he releases Countless Branches, the third lp in his post-hiatus discography. “Filled With Wonder Once Again,” released earlier this month, is indicative of the album’s a simple orchestration, featuring little more than acoustic guitar, piano, scattered percussion, bass, and Fay’s distinct croon.
Can: Silent Night
Silent nite, kosmische nite.
Ernest Hood: Exploring Neighborhoods
Ernest Hood’s 1975 proto-ambient masterpiece Neighborhoods is a reminder of what happens when quiet makes space to really listen. Combining idyllic field recordings and washes of synth and zither, the album illustrates the relationship between the specific and the universal.
Christmas Jambree: A Vintage Jamaican Yuletide Mixtape
Yuletide sails into Jamaica each year on what the locals call the Christmas Breeze, a slightly crisper air that tends to waft through the island come December. There’s another seasonal harbinger, one that is more common around the world, and that’s the sound of Christmas songs on the radio. But Christmas music in Jamaica is, well, uniquely Jamaican. Traditional carols get a reggae underpinning while lyrics about snow and holly are usually substituted for sunshine and mango trees. Back in the day, it was hardly a given that every Jamaican artist would record a Christmas song, unlike today. But several did–and they’re worth digging for.
Straight, No Chaser/Full Mantis/The Case of the Three Sided Dream
Picture a man ... on a couch. It’s dark, the room Illuminated only by the incandescent glow of the television and his gruesome, ever-present phone. Anxiety and frustration mount during a seemingly endless scroll of what-to-watch. Psychologically and emotionally exhausted by the acute mundanity of the task, he picks up an axe...Slow down, cuz! It's cool, we've got you. Check it out: here are three recent jazz documentaries that are now streamable (gratis if you have Netflix/Prime).
First up is the 1988 Charlotte Zwerin directed Thelonius Monk documentary, Straight, No Chaser. Fantastic stuff. A super intimate look into the life and career of the legend, we had previously only seen wobbly VHS excerpts via Youtube, so good on Netflix for making this happen. Next up: Milford Graves Full Mantis. Both fascinating and inspirational. Even if you're not familiar with the iconoclast drummer's work (or really even avant-garde jazz as a thing), this 2018 documentary provides an illuminating character study into what makes humans tick. For Graves, an autodidact, it's a lifelong obsession with music, martial arts, and some kind of home-brewed zen energy. And finally, The Case of the Three Sided Dream, the 2014 documentary chronicling the life and music of the blind, bad-as-fuck, multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk. The footage here alone of Kirk doing his thing would be worth the watch, yet there is so much more. Until next week, carry on.