Rosenboom, Floyd, Sankaran: Suitable For Framing

Suitable for Framing
forms of freedom for two pianos and mrdangam

David Rosenboom and J. B. Floyd, pianos;
Trichy Sankaran, mrdangam and kanjira

In concert

On April 19th, 1975, at Northern Illinois University, three musicians met in a milestone event from which emerged a unique, improvising trio with two pianos and South Indian percussion. Fortunately, it was recorded and excerpts released on a long out of print LP. This CD recaptures the essential essence of the entire evening of musical discovery with previously unreleased music recovered from digitally reprocessed tapes recently discovered in diverse states of preservation.


1. 19IV75 by J. B. Floyd and David Rosenboom (22:37)
Rosenboom and Floyd, formed a piano duo in the early 1970's from which emerged a unique style of structured improvisation. They employed a wide range of musical tools, including techniques for implementing forms that evolve gradually in performance time, but invoked them spontaneously in improvisation, rather than through pre-composition. All the music arose uniquely in each musical moment. In 19IV75, some material was also drawn from the first and second movements of Rosenboom's, The Seduction of Sapientia, and the second movement of Patterns for London.

2. Patterns for London (Movement I) by David Rosenboom (9:15)
Composed in 1972 for London's International Carnival of Experimental Sound, each of Patterns for London's three movements is a cyclical form with no beginning or end. Movement I is comprised of a circular progression of tonal modules, each defined by a set of ostinato chords and modal scales, all containing the common tone, A. These are expanded through improvisation.

3. Mrdangam Solo by Trichy Sankaran (9:47)
This is a virtuosic solo mixing Sankaran's compositions with improvisation in the eight-beat cycle, Adi tala. It progresses through introductory and middle stages to modulating to six pulses per beat, called tisra gati, and finally, to an exciting fast pharan section. In the middle, a call and response idea is articulated with only one mrdangam, but sounds as if there are more. The entire solo is improvised in a traditional format in line with the spirit of the two-piano performances. Appropriately, Rosenboom joins in at the end with an accompanying pattern, like a return to the "head" in jazz.

4. Is Art Is by David Rosenboom (21:15)
Is Art Is is an infinite form, cyclical and open, without finite time-space boundaries, with equality of drone and impulse, interfusion of universal and particular, exploring open time-spaces and gradual processes. Composed originally in 1974 for Floyd's group, Electric Stereopticon, it is constructed much like a jazz tune with a head in twelve-beats, a middle section with patterns played in various phase relationships over a seven-beat ostinato, and a return to the "head" with overlapping themes. The rhythmic modules relate well to the language of Indian drumming, and Sankaran helped expand the form.

5. Suitable Bonus (9:18)
On one surviving tape, we discovered additional playing in which the trio improvises on material from drawn from the third movement of Rosenboom's Patterns for London and parts of his 1964 gradual process piece, Continental Divide. Sankaran played kanjira, a South Indian tambourine constructed with a wooden ring, one set of metal jingles, and a stretched membrane of lizard skin. This may have been recorded prior to the concert during a sound check. It is presented as a bonus snapshot of this trio's inventive musical spirit. (Suitably, perhaps, the reel ran out before the music ended, so we've made the music fly off into a suitable space.)

(DR, 7/23/2004)

Credits and acknowledgements

Personnel: David Rosenboom, left piano; J. B. Floyd, right piano; Trichy Sankaran, mrdangam and kanjira

Live recording by Stacey Bowers and David Rosenboom, later remixed at Sound Market Recording, Chicago, by Bill Bradley. Original recordings re-mastered for this CD by David Rosenboom in his studio at California Institute of the Arts, developed with partial assistance from the George and MaryLou Boone Fund for Artistic Advancement. Digital transfer of one surviving eight-track master tape by Paul Zinman, SoundByte Productions, Inc., New York.

Collage images used on cover are by artist/filmmaker, George Manupelli, assisted by photographer, Judy Whalen. Manupelli suggested the original LP title, Suitable for Framing.

Patterns for London (1972), The Seduction of Sapientia (1975), Is Art Is (1974), and Continental Divide (1964) Copyright © David Rosenboom. 19IV75 (1975) Copyright © David Rosenboom and J.B. Floyd. Published by David Rosenboom Publishing (BMI). Mrdangam Solo (1975) Copyright © Trichy Sankaran. All rights reserved.

The artists

J.B. Floyd's long career as pianist/composer/improviser has included classical recitals and solos with orchestra, new music solos and group collaborations, jazz improvisations, and multi-media presentations. He is currently chairman of the Department of Keyboard Performance at the University of Miami.

David Rosenboom is known as a pioneer in American experimental music who has explored ideas about propositional music, the spontaneous emergence forms in music, media, and the human nervous system, since the 1960s. He is currently dean of the School of Music at California Institute of the Arts.

Trichy Sankaran is a top ranking, virtuoso mrdangam vidwan who has composed and performed in Indian, jazz, electronic, Afro-American, gamelan, and chamber orchestra styles. He is currently director of Indian Music Studies at York University, Toronto, and founding director of the Kalalayam institution for the percussive arts.



…an extraordinary concert…
Julian Cowley, The Wire, December 2003