A Fractured Pop email exchange with Howard Mandel (who wrote liner notes for Brooklyn Suite):
Hi Chris, I listened to the music of Fractured Pop yesterday -- enjoyed the amiability (companionable aspect) of the themes and togetherness of the ensemble. I noticed a lot of musical details, especially in your guitar parts of accompaniment/orchestration/arrangement, and also liked your wild solo (track 4, I think). The saxophonist was interesting -- the whole thing is easy to listen to, although of course the music will seem unfamiliar to most listeners, and it's far from pop as pop is now! I didn't read all the documentation, which I shall, and also I'll grab some time to look at the video.
One question: Do you envision a particular audience for what you're doing? (ok, two questions, or to rephrase: Who do you want to be aware of what you're doing, first of all?)
Howard, thanks for continued listening. I think of FP as more of a “beyond jazz” (*) record than anything else, and it’s nice to be able to use the term and be understood. Aside from the amiability of the themes, which you correctly identify as a significant aspect relating to the FP title, the pop part comes in especially with the manner in which the album was captured. Basic tracks were recorded most frequently keeping the improvised solos on those chosen takes, with the sound effects and copious extra guitar parts added later, just like you would on a rock or pop record (Sgt. Pepper is in the news these days). So we mostly have the ‘integrity’ of a classic jazz blowing date by keeping the spontaneous interaction intact, but with the added orchestrations that hopefully deepen the compositional aspect and enhance the overall companionability.
Another pop flavor is the predomination of triads on a number of songs (the title track, “Radio Silence”, “Meeting at Surratt’s”, “Old Folks Song”). Jazz music most often uses more elaborate harmony, adding sevenths, ninths, elevenths, etc. and their alterations to the basic minor and major triads. Chords like G, C, E minor, etc….as opposed to Db13(b9#11), etc. Triads as you know often invoke folk music picking, or ‘jangly’ pop, or alternative rock strumming. Then those pop aspects are fractured by the sudden juxtaposition of the more extended chords and also by the use of the outgoing jazz improvising on top of some of the triad passages.
So to answer your main question about who I wanted to be made aware of this (besides everybody), I wasn’t particularly targeting pop listeners (although I think certain jazz averse populations might be intrigued given the amiability and the rock guitar sheen)…it was targeted more toward the “beyond jazz” world, if that’s a thing, as well as any interested or open minded tourists.
Track 4 “Outside Line” is one of the songs with a big guitar solo…compare to the live version on the DVD, and listen for elements repurposed for two of the four remix mashups (“Line Dreams" and “Outside, the Lines”).
My thinking by making it a deluxe package with the DVD was to try and differentiate this release from being just another CD release…to distinguish from the crowd (live vids, slide shows, alt takes, mashups, lead sheets, etc.). Early response has indicated to me that this plan has not made the difference I wanted. Most of the random minor reviews from across the world have barely mentioned the DVD. People certainly have not launched into the rich extra content so far for possibly two reasons that I can think of: 1) no one has the time to give more than a cursory listen to the CD, harvest background from the notes and the press release, and then paste those phrases into their review, and/or 2) no one has disc drives anymore, let alone a DVD player, so the content is literally inaccessible. Probably both…
Thanks again for the ears,
* My use of the phrase “beyond jazz” points to Howard’s book Miles, Ornette, Cecil - Jazz Beyond Jazz (Routledge, 2008), but it also refers to his greater use of the phrase to generally describe a certain kind of music that includes jazz but is informed by other genres to the extent that the end result might well not be easily recognized as jazz by all scrutinizers.