Elizabeth Taylor, The Shadow of Your Smile and Jack Sheldon’s Trumpet Solo

Posted April 1st, 2011 at 9:12 pm (UTC+0)
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Elizabeth Taylor on the set of the movie "Cleopatra"

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My heart melts every time I listen to “The Shadow of Your Smile.” It’s a popular love song from the 1965 movie “The Sandpiper,” which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Besides the lyrics, the utterly brilliant solo by Jazz trumpeter Jack Sheldon, the haunting solo, sticks with me for some reason. It brings nostalgia of love.

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The Shadow of Your Smile won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year and the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1965.  It was an iconic part of my growing up years. It still holds a special place in my heart, reminds me of my crushes in middle and high school, and brings memories of the first trumpet my Dad bought me after I watched the movie in Cairo, Egypt in 1976.

Sheldon’s virtuosic abilities on the trumpet are prominent throughout much of the impressive soundtrack. Such refined skills made the gifted trumpeter a featured soloist on numerous soundtracks.

Diaa Bekheet

Diaa Bekheet

The trumpet sound in the Elizabeth Taylor movie kept repeating in my head for long. I first heard an innovative trumpet sound in the early 1970’s in this classic Egyptian movie from the 1940’s starring Leila Murad and Anwar Wagdi (The Liz Taylor and Richard Burton of Egypt at the time). Then my Dad bought me a trumpet for about $10, but I wasn’t able to play it elegantly like Sheldon or the actor, trumpeter in the Egyptian movie. I later gave up and learned to play guitar in the footsteps of my older brother who skillfully played The Shadow of Your Smile.

The song was a minor hit for many singers, including Andy Williams, Tony Bennett, Shirley Bassey, Perry Como, Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis. Many jazz performers also recorded versions of the song, such as the legendary singer Peggy Lee, guitarist George Benson and saxophonist Kenny G.

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Elizabeth Taylor in LondonOther world musicians played different versions and arrangements of the song, like Italian trumpeter Fabrizio Bosso.

Another song that gives the same nostalgia and brings good old memories is Jazz Waltz from the 1963 American TV film “Elizabeth Taylor in London.”

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It was all about child Liz Taylor’s home city, London, and it has an utterly brilliant soundtrack, with a score written by then 29-year-old John Barry and arranged by the awesome Johnnie Spence. Emmy-nominated on its release, Elizabeth Taylor in London is a truly fantastic record that pitches Barry’s innate jazz cool up against Spence’s super-lush orchestrations.

Taylor, with her dazzling violet-blue eyes, was almost all the lovely things to my generation in Egypt; many loved her dearly before and after her movieCleopatra.” She was the world’s prettiest actress.

Elizabeth Taylor, who won two Oscars, died on March 23, 2001. She’s gone, but the shadow of her smile remains.

For more on jazz, listen to VOA’s Jazz America

Diaa Bekheet

Diaa Bekheet
Diaa Bekheet has worked for a host of media outlets, including Radio Cairo in English, ETV News, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) and the Associated Press. He joined VOA in Feb. 1989 as an International Broadcaster, hosting a variety of popular news and entertainment shows such as Newshour, Radio Ride Across America, Business Week, and Jazz Club USA. He has interviewed a number of Jazz celebrities, including the legendary Dizzy Gillespie, Ramsey Lewis, Wayne Shorter, and George Benson. Diaa is currently an editor for our main English site, VOAnews.com.

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VOA’s music bloggers bring you info about all kinds of music. Katherine Cole will keep you up-to-date on the world of Bluegrass and Americana music while Ray McDonald rocks the Pop charts and artists. Diaa Bekheet  jams with you on Jazz.  Visit us often. Your comments are welcome.

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