In 1976, Roy Ayres released his album Everybody Loves the Sunshine under the Roy Ayers Ubiquity moniker. The title track is a cool, lazy summer evening jam that’s been sampled by Mary J Blige, A Guy Called Gerald, Machinedrum, J. Cole, Dr Dre, Lemon D, 2Pac and Common to name but a few. It’s also been covered by D’Angelo, RAMP, Robert Glasper, Seu Jorge and Almaz, Soul Village and Incognito amongst others.
The song is in three parts: the intro, a turn around and the main chorus. There is actually a fourth part, but it doesn’t really feature any chords so we’ll skip past it today. Each section is criminally easy, so it’s a great number to have under your belt.
The piece starts with three piano chords, drums, bass, and a lead from an ARP Odyssey, which I don’t have, so I’m using the GF Oddity2 that emulates it quite nicely (a special thanks to Tim Cant for help with this sound, too). The lead is a couple of detuned sawtooths with a resonant low-pass filter, some white noise and a healthy dollop of slap-back echo. We’re working at 83 bpm, but the original tempo fluctuates a little.
The chords are E/F#, C#/D# and D/E – all simple slash chords with the same voicing. This makes a hypothetical guitar part quite easy as the shape just shifts up and down the fretboard:
And here’s the bassline, originally played on an electric bass guitar. The B in bar one is almost like a ghost note, so don’t put too much emphasis on it. The fill in bar two is quite legato, too.
To lead into the chorus, there’s a simple turn around, a ii V I VII in the key of D (although the song is in scored in A).
The voicings are bread and butter jazz chords; the E-9 can be looked at as a G∆7 in the right hand with an E in the left hand. To move to the V chord, just hold an A in your left hand and shift the D to a C#, the rest of the chord remains the same. The D∆9 is like an F#-7 with a D in the bass. Finally the VII is your Jimi Hendrix chord, a 7#9.
Remember: if you’re unfamiliar with chord naming conventions, please check this.
Here’s the bassline:
The main groove/chorus idea is a voicing transposed up and down, like the intro, but this time using the minor nine chord, going F#-9, C#-9, A-9 and B-9. These don’t really sit in one key so if you were looking to solo, you’d probably want to use F# minor for the first, second and last chords and A minor for the third chord. There also an ARP Solina String holding an F# throughout and some Fender Rhodes action, sprinkling nice cluster chords over the top.
The guitar chords I’ve listed don’t match perfectly with the keyboard voicings – this is because I wanted to find something that sat in the same register without jumping up and down too much:
Finally, the bassline for this section:
Roy Ayers’ impact has been felt through the RnB, Soul, Jazz and Funk world, and throughout the rest of music too. Although this may be his most famous hit, I do implore you familiarise yourself with the rest of his back catalog, especially his work with Ubiquity.
I’ll leave you with two of my other favourites of his, Mystery of Love and Green and Gold: