Frank Glover: Going A Different Way
AAJ: What would you like to do from here?
FG: I'm sure that whatever happens will happen for the good; and I'm not ready to quit, I'd like to be able to continue to make records. I like having a project to work on, but these are too expensive to make. I may write a record at home on the synthesizer. I could re-release my older material, but I'd rather write new music. I have at least three or four more records in me. Oh, I'm sure that Owl wants me to tour; it would be great to have just a little more justification for doing what I do. But I'm happy to just be making records; this record is special for me. I like building things, designing them and putting them together. I like to do things around the house, I like interior design and building bathrooms, creating thingsit's not unlike music, really. I'm a very slow but careful writer; I try to blend each sound as a completely new sound.
Frank Glover conducting during the Abacus sessions
AAJ: So what is music, then? Why do you do it? What does it give you that makes you want to keep doing what you do?
FG: I can create new things that I've never heard before and that nobody else has heard before. It's hidden in the universe, you find it, you don't make it. Others think you make it, but you don't, you discover it, if you're lucky. I find them on the keyboard; then I just work it and work it until I can't work it anymore. You know it's done when nothing can be added to it. Nothing can be taken away from it to make it better. You can take away from it and make it cleaner, but I'm not like a Hemingway writer, I'm not a lean writer, I love color. I'm more like a Charles Frazier writer.
I have textural ideas that I hear and make notes from. Sometime I hear things in movies and I'll write down the time and what movie it's in. There's some great movie music out there. There's a million dollar chord in King Kong (2005) at 42:40 that is spectacular. There's a nice score to The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003). Troy (2004), Babel (2006) and the The Road to Perdition (2002) are all good. I've loved the movies since I was very young. There's just so much more music to be made.
Abacus isn't a pure jazz record, there's real classical composition on this one; Bach to Stravinsky and beyond, Toru Takemitsu. And when you add improvisation on top of that and it becomes something different, it requires a lot of specialized disciplines to pull it off. I almost made the whole record without "Ballerina," the whole second movement, because I didn't think it fit. Then someone told me they thought it fit, that you could tell that it was all written by one person, it flows, so I decided to keep it in there. But "Ballerina" is very different from the rest.
AAJ: Tell me about your composing process. Do you sit down with a piece of paper, a clarinet and a piano?
FG: Abacus was all written with pencil and paper and keyboard. When I am composing, I am that thing within music. I don't have to have it, I feel like I am it. People look at it like it's something separate from themselvesI need an hour of exercise, I need time to do this or that. When you're in the right place, you realize that you are it. The trick is to be able to stay in that place as long as you can, I mean literally, during the day, because it makes you happy. It helps me solve problems that I otherwise wouldn't be able to solve.
AAJ: Does the solution to a problem come up after you've written the music?
FG: No, it comes from within the process of creating. If you never get to the place where you realize life can be so beautiful, then you never realize what a mess you've got on your hands when you're in it. There's no contrast, life is not a fantasy, it's real. I just think that if people can get to a place where art is, if they can discover that place that they can actually live in, maybe for only three seconds, for example, this time, in an art gallery...then maybe next time you go, you realize that you were there for three whole minutes, and in that moment, nobody could touch you. You feel like you're in bed with the artist for a second.
Like when I listen to Barber's "Adagio for Strings," every time I hear it, it makes me cry. That's the real power of music. Joseph Campbell calls it aesthetic arrest; it's the best definition of art I've ever heard. It's aesthetic; it's beyond what you can say, you can decide how it feels to you, that's about all you can describe, the rest of it is magic. In that place there are no boundaries...when I start playing, that shift happens to me automatically. I can get in that space usually within a matter of seconds; the aural stuff is a little quicker than the visual for me, it gets me there a little faster. But if that's not magic, then what is?
AAJ: Other cultures, particularly the Hindu, think that music is the door to the divine.
FG: But that's what different between our musical culture and that one. You have to put some time in, you have to relax. You can't have all these bills to pay, all these cell phones, all these messages, all this crap you've got to do. You have to put all that aside, you've got to slow down to get to that place. And within this culture, that's a hard thing to do.