Archive for January 7, 2014

Physics World Plug

Posted in Books, Talks and Reviews, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on January 7, 2014 by telescoper

Just time for a quick bit of shameless self-promotion. This month’s Edition of Physics World has an article by me as cover feature. Here’s a sneak preview, but to read the whole thing you’ll have to rush out and buy a copy! Alternatively, you can find it online here.


My Favo(u)rite Things

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , on January 7, 2014 by telescoper

I’ve got a short gap in between meetings which I thought I’d fill by posting a classic piece by John Coltrane. This is the title track from the 1961 album My Favorite Things which, as it happens, is one of my favourite things. Coltrane plays soprano sax on this track; apparently he hadn’t played a soprano sax until 1960, when Miles Davis bought him one. I like its use on this particularly recording as it gives the performance a very “Eastern” sound.

You might think that a song from The Sound of Music would be unlikely material for John Coltrane to tackle, but in fact he does something extremely interesting with it: the melody is heard numerous times throughout the track, but instead of playing solos over the written chord changes, the soloists improvise over just two chords, E minor and E major, in a manner that seems influenced by Indian music. The whole thing is played in waltz time. In fact, although John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner are great on this track I can never quite manage to tear my ears away from the drummer, the late and very great Elvin Jones, who keeps an intense but fluidly swinging pulse going in 3/4 but also does so much around and across that central beat that it seems he must have more than one pair of hands…