Autumn Leaves is probably one of the most often played tunes by jazz students and it is a very good vehicle to demonstrate some basic improvisation principles. The video shows a short improvisation on 7 different levels, from basic melody to complete improvisation (one chorus). Each next level increases the amount of variation, notes and scales used, the range of positions played. The scales used in the examples are mostly these:
- G A Bb C D Eb F G (throughout)
- G A Bb C D E F# G (beginning and end)
- Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb (around Eb chord near the end)
Chromatic parts may fill up these scales. At higher levels, scales based on substitute chords are used, for instance, substitute for F7 would be B7-5. Notes to play there could be B C#, D#, F, F# G# A B.
View the video or view the notation/TAB.
The fretboard display shown here is part of the Jazz Exercises package.
Learn to improvise
Learn to improvise with the Jazz Exercises: From basic exercises to full solos, with backing tracks, midi files, TABS and notation, and a guide with explanations and study advice. Also check out the Smooth Jazz Refill and All Jazz Refill.