Let’s Look At The Chords…
As I mentioned this is a very simple line using only a couple of basic repeating melodic patterns. Once you have those patterns under your fingers you can start to experiment and add more and more figures on the fly as your vocabulary develops.
So first of all let’s just briefly look at the tune. Autumn Leaves is one of the most commonly used songs when it comes to learning jazz and with any jazz standard, it’s worth looking at the harmony and getting a feel for what’s going on in terms of basic chord sequences and key changes.
Autumn Leaves is pretty straightforward in that we have two main tonal centers, one in Bb major and then another in the relative minor key of G minor.
We start with a II-V-I progression in Bb Major.
Cm7 – F7 – Bbmaj7
We then have another II-V-I in the key of G minor (relative minor of Bb):
Am7b5 – D7 – Gm7
The Ebmaj7 helps to pivot between the two keys because it’s chord IV of Bb Major and chord VI of G Minor:
At the end of the 8 bars we have G7 chord acting as a secondary dominant chord to bring us back round to Cm7 again:
If you’re wondering what I mean by all these numbers, we’re looking at the chords in a key. Just follow work through the Music Theory For Bass series of lessons in the Lesson Map to learn more.