Archive for March 7, 2020

R.I.P. McCoy Tyner (1938-2020)

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , on March 7, 2020 by telescoper

I had just got home last night when I heard the sad news of the death at the age of 81 of the brilliant pianist McCoy Tyner. When I was looking through my collection of jazz recordings after hearing about this I was struck by how many of them featured McCoy Tyner, most of them in association with John Coltrane that lasted about five years. Tyner’s style was enormously influential as well as immediately recognizable, especially for the way he used his left hand to punch out chords in much the same way as a right-handed boxer uses his left jab.

Tyner had a very long career as a solo musician and it would be wrong the give the impression that his work with Trane from about 1960 to 1965 was all he did, but when choosing something to share in his memory I kept coming back to that period.

In the end I decided to post a classic piece from the John Coltrane era. 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 at all 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, but drummer Elvin Jones not only keeps an intense but fluidly swinging pulse going in 3/4 but also does so much around and across that central beat.

The Spread of the Coronavirus

Posted in Covid-19, Uncategorized with tags , on March 7, 2020 by telescoper

I thought I would share the above graphic because provides a simple yet very effective illustration of why
it is so important to delay the spread of the Coronavirus, and why strict precautions are being taken to achive that.

The primary cause of death for patients suffering from COVID-19, the disease carried by this virus is that inflamation of the lining of the alveoli in the lungs makes it harder for oxygen to diffuse across into the capillaries and for carbon dioxide to diffuse out. As outlined in the report I shared a few days ago, severe cases therefore require treatment that involves being supplied with oxygen via a respirator for a long period, perhaps weeks. The number of available respirators and intensive care units generally is likely to prove the factor that limits the capacity of hospitals to cope.

The situation might be worse in England because the NHS only has about 2.3 hospital beds per thousand of the population so the capacity limit may be hit much earlier. For reference, Ireland is not much better on 2.96, Scotland has 4.2 and Germany has 8; see here for OECD figures from other countries.

Delaying the spread of the virus may prevent health services from being overwhelmed by spreading out the peak in the manner indicated in the diagram even if the total number of cases were not to reduce. Pushing back the bulk of the distribution by weeks or months may also help if the virus is seasonal – it may transmit infection less efficiently during the spring or summer than it does during the winter.

In the light of this it can’t do any harm to share the HSE advice for Ireland again.

Now wash your hands please.