Here is a transcription of a video of Eddy Davis on the Tenor Banjo on this popular standard from 1965 : The Shadow Of Your Smile.
This transcription is part of a larger work that I gave myself in order to progress in my knowledge of the Tenor Banjo. Indeed, I would like to transcribe about ten versions of Eddy Davis‘ adaptations and, in this way, to impregnate myself with his harmonic tricks and his rich musicality.
Why this song.
I discovered this title when I was a student at the American School Of Modern Music, Paris 15e, France. The task was to transcribe a jazz guitar solo. As strange as it may seem, I didn’t have any jazz guitar record at home. My basic culture being essentially pop. To quickly fill this gap, I went to the record store downstairs. Then I randomly chose this Wes Montgomery album, Bumpin’.
This album remains today one of my favorite albums. More broadly, it was the beginning of a long passion and admiration for Wes Montgomery.
In the continuation of an enrichment thanks to the talent of the other musicians, I found the version of The Shadow Of Your Smile played by Eddy Davis with the Tenor Banjo. It seemed obvious to me that I should transcribe it!
Regarding the melody, I love this first phrase that starts the song. In G major, the key of the Real Book, this first phrase describes an E minor chord. B, E, F#, G, B to land on a C#. This C# that falls on the first tempo is out of the key of G major. This is a rather surprising entry!
I really like the effect.
Harmonically, to understand the grid, I think you have to read it backwards. Indeed, we have to wait until the seventh bar to finally have the key of G major. Then, we can understand that bars 5 and 6 are a II V of G. Then measures 3 and 4 which are a II V of D (which arrives measure 6). And finally measures 1 and 2 which are a II V of E (which arrives measure 3).
If you needed an example to show the importance of II V sequences, here is one !
Eddy Davis chose to play this piece in Eb major. I don’t know the reason for his choice. Especially since this key seems low for his voice. I would suggest that his choice was based on the possibilities of the Tenor Banjo. Of course, as this is a transcription, I have kept this key to better understand Eddy‘s tricks.
I must admit that I do not regret the time spent on this work and the pleasure I took in listening again and again to his video.
Score and tablature.
If you wish, my transcript and the Real Book lead sheet are available in pdf format just below this text.
This is a non-commercial sharing.