Indianapolis-based clarinetist and soprano saxophonist Frank Glover's musical concept on Abacus is not necessarily involved in counting, or painting by numbers. This is a combination of orchestral sounds paired with soloist Glover and his quartet that goes beyond what would normally be heard in this format. There's a certain division of labor between Glover and the Wood & Rodin, Inc. 24-piece group conducted by Dean Franke, but their collective vision stretches far past the immediate horizon and into celestial territory. You hear minimalism associated with Steve Reich, elegant jazz à la Duke Ellington, and cerebral tones closer to Igor Stravinsky or Pierre Boulez than J.S. Bach and Johannes Brahms. The program is a concerto in three movements, with four separate compositions comprising the first and third sections, with the delicate, standalone piano/strings feature "Ballerina" in the middle. Zach Lapidus is on the acoustic keyboard aside Glover's soprano or clarinet, moving with the large ensemble through free-of-time passages, slow 2/4 observations à la Reich, a brighter, percussion-driven title selection, and "Domino," in swelling then shouting motion with an electric piano and rock beat under the complexities. The finale is romantic then deliberate with Native American percussive colors and an Americana feel not unlike Aaron Copland, with clockwork or Latin rhythms during "Salamanca," ending in the spiky coda of "Robot." Glover's woodwinds are very much within a peaceful mood, while the accompanying orchestral charts have great depth and substance, although they don't shout for approval. It's a grand statement without being grandiose or even remotely pompous, heartfelt to the bone, and a beautiful new music statement straight from the Midwestern heartland.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos