Vintage Music Experience :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

The internet is filled with millions of stories about the failure of social media algorithms. 32 million, to be exact, according to Google. So rather than repeating something you’ve heard before, I thought I’d highlight a moment when the algorithm worked to perfection. 

Back in February I began to see some rare Rahsaan Roland Kirk videos pop up in my You Tube recommendations. Although I love Rahsaan, I’m not an expert on his music. Still, I recognized that many of the uploaded videos appeared to be new to the internet. I bookmarked the channel uploading these rare tunes: Vintage Music Experience. Each day, incredible new VME videos appeared in my recommendations. 

Since then, VME has uploaded rare jazz concerts on an almost daily basis, with a special emphasis on free jazz. Most are extremely rare and unknown to even the most experienced aficionado—believe me, I’ve asked a few, and they were blown away. The list of names is staggering: Don Cherry, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Bill Dixon, Cecil Taylor, Max Roach, Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, and on and on.

I was so entranced by the quality and quantity of the uploads that I reached out to the owner of VME, a man named Sergei Minakov, to learn more. It turns out the 34 year old Russian doesn’t speak English, so we communicated via e-mail and he used a translator app. To accompany the interview I’ve selected just a small portion of the hundreds of amazing videos that await you at VME. | D Mittleman

Aquarium Drunkard: How did you become interested in music? Are you a musician? Did you study music?

Sergei Minakov: I’ve loved music since childhood, as long as I can remember. I wanted to become a musician. I studied music—I play the trumpet.

AD: Favorite types of music? Favorite musicians?

Sergei Minakov: Favorite genres: jazz (in all its styles), rock music, funk, soul. Academic music. At this time, I am trying to listen and study the avant-garde in all its manifestations. There are many favorite musicians. Starting from Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Sonny Rollins, Frank Zappa, John Zorn, and many more. Of the latter, I like Don Pullen.

AD: When did you start tape trading/collecting?

Sergei Minakov: I started collecting tapes a long time ago, but in terms of exchange all over the world, since about 2005.

AD: Are you a taper yourself? Do you tape live shows yourself?

Sergei Minakov: I had to record at an amateur level, but I was not very good at that, these were isolated cases.

AD: Why do you post videos to You Tube?

Sergei Minakov: By publishing music on YouTube, I want to share this rare music so that more people can hear it and appreciate these excellent musicians, many of whom are no longer with us. For older people, this is an opportunity to hear what they may have forgotten or lost. For young people, [it’s an opportunity] to learn something new for themselves.

AD:  Can you discuss your love of jazz?

Sergei Minakov: I fell in love with jazz [at] 7. My uncle is a saxophonist, he introduced me to this music. It was also on cassette tapes. And he gave me my first vinyl records. So from the age of 7, I started collecting vinyl. In this music I am attracted by the live dynamics, the sound of brass instruments, the saxophone of course. Rhythmic basis and, of course, improvisation.

AD: Are there any live tapes you know to exist, but have not yet acquired? What are your dream live tapes?

Sergei Minakov: Probably there are such records, but I won’t tell you right away. I have been looking for a video of the Brecker Brothers concert, Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux, Switzerland (The Arista All Stars 07/21/78) for a long time; I enjoyed listening to other audio recordings of this team, I have very few of them.

AD: Do you trade tapes of any other types of music than jazz? Grateful Dead?

Segei Minakov: Yes, [but] not a lot of rock music, classical music, folk music. But lately, physical media has lost its success. Basically, the exchange takes place on the internet through cloud servers.

AD: Do you have other social media pages?

[I’m on] Instagram, and VK.

AD: Please keep posting Don Cherry videos! I love them and I know lots of other people do too.

Sergei Minakov: I also adore Don Cherry, stay tuned…

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