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Playing “Autumn Leaves” in root position

We look at a transcription of playing "Autumn Leaves" as a solo piece in root position.
“Autumn Leaves” is an important tune in the library of standards of modern jazz and, because of that, I’ve gone to the trouble of writing you out a version in root position. I mean, ultimately I’d prefer you to work out your own version, but we haven’t covered playing in root position yet, so that’s not a fair thing to ask. But the point I’d like to try and make is that probably every time I play it I play it slightly differently. So writing it down on a piece of paper kind of fossilises it in a way that doesn’t accord with its role in a jazz pianist’s playing.
It turns out that this transcription of mine is already different from the lead sheet in note one, because on the lead sheet it goes … so the first note of the pickup, the G of the pickup, is on the second beat of the bar, whereas in mine it comes on the and of the second beat …
Moreover, the other phrase - those 3 crotchets - all get squeezed up into 3 quavers.
The way I’ve written it out is the standard way that people play “Autumn Leaves”, namely as question and answer. So the question is … and the answer is those 2 chords. The next question .. this time 3 chords … and so on.
Question and answer - a very important device in jazz. Let me have a go at playing it for you and then I’ll just discuss a couple of things about it. I’m not guaranteeing that I will play exactly what I’ve written here because, as I say, it probably isn’t what I would play if I were to just play it freely, but I’ll give you enough of an idea so that you can work on it on your own. I’ll play what’s written - hopefully. 1,2,3,4,1.
I’d get about 7 out of 10 for playing that. If I played it again I’d make some mistakes in other places. Anyway, a few things about playing it. First of all, there is this difficult thing in bar 19, where you really need to get down to a 5 or a 4 so that you can play the chords that I’ve written for you afterwards. I don’t know a nice fingering that will do it, other than jumping. At least its staccato - those notes before.
Another thing - it’s quite hard playing that … descending … and then when we get to 4 bars from the end, you probably need to roll that chord - the E flat major chord - because certainly my hand is not big enough
Playing “Autumn Leaves” in root position on your own - or, is it necessarily on your own?

We look at a transcription I have provided of playing “Autumn Leaves” as a solo piece in root position.

You can download the “Autumn Leaves (Root Position)” chart in PDF format at the bottom of this step.

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Learn jazz piano: Improvising on Jazz Standards

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