Autumn Leaves has been recorded thousands of times by different artists (including Frank Sinatra & Nat King Cole) and is played by nearly every jazz and lounge band in the world. It is considered one of the great Jazz “Standards” for sure, and is a great entry-level song for those who want to give jazz a try.
Why? It has a unique quality to the background harmonic progression where nearly every note of every chord is built with notes of the overall scale or overall key of the song. This is called “diatonic” (“dia” = within & “tonic” = name of a key or scale, so literally “within a key/scale”).
What this means to you, the improviser, is that you can jam, pretty successfully, with one scale over the whole song without needing to know a single bit more of “theory”!
What scale? Usually this song is played in the key of E minor. Of course it can be played in any key, depending on the preferences of the singer or lead instrumentalist, but usually E minor.
Lesson elements below: melody, improv 1 (Em/G), improv 2 (E blues), improv 3 (B7), improv 4 – arpeggios, bass lines, ear training and listening lessons.