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Why "Autumn Leaves" and "All The Things You Are" are secretly the two coolest songs ever

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by JimmyM, Nov 18, 2019.

  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    [ED. NOTE: This is a continuation of a couple threads I posted about joining an existing working blues/jazz band with serious jazz musicians and me being a Jazz 101 player at best 3 weeks ago. Maybe if I get bored later I'll link them to this post, otherwise they're currently findable on the first or second pages of this forum. Check them out...they're awesome, and you can easily read them in a trip to the can!]

    So now I've got all the tunes down and we're adding more at a much slower clip than 60 in a week and a half, thank God! The guys are liking what I'm doing a lot more now that I'm pushing the swing tunes. The faster they swing, the more they want them pushed, even the drummer. I told them, "Yeah, but I don't want to rush the tempos."

    They said, "Rush, damn you!"

    So I did, and I totally got it. The bass SHOULD be out in front of the drums a little on faster swing tunes, and he'll hold it back if it gets out of control. Somehow or another it all works out. A fine point I really didn't notice before. On the rare times I do jazz sets, folks have been happy I could read a Real Book chart without stumbling :D But this is the first time actually playing them with a real jazz standards trio (sometimes a quartet) other than as a sub. I suppose I'll get a lot more fine points thrown my way in the next batch of jazz songs, but when the guitar player comes offstage of the 3rd gig and says, "Now you're swingin', Jim," it makes me think I could be a real jazzbo after all!

    The next batch is about 20 they can pull out of a hat, a few I knew, plenty I don't. They told me to learn enough to do an entire set. Included in this list are the two most cheesy-ass 1930's show tunes that jazz musicians always learn first...yep..."Autumn Leaves" and "All The Things You Are." More musicians who might otherwise develop a finer appreciation for jazz have been turned so off by these two hokey songs that they avoid them like the plague after that, and some just forget about jazz altogether. And jazz teachers for newbs will take you through every single example of the musical concepts in them the second they think you're ready for the concepts, and do so in sometimes excruciating detail. I sympathize. I've been there.

    But if any music teacher doesn't take you through these songs to show you how music is made in real life, they are doing you a big disservice. These songs contain all the practical application wisdom in the countless hours spent learning your notes and chords and beginner musical concepts. These two songs are the payoff, my friends, and they apply to every instrument in music and every style of music in the world. Among the big stuff you get are how to create melodies, interesting chord changes, how to use occasional out-of-key moments to create tension and release in your music, and these can be applied to any kind of music from classical to EDM and hip-hop. And you will see why your teacher kept after you to learn the circles of 4th's and 5th's, and you will thank him/her profusely. Once you hear these concepts in action, you will be listening to music you love and you will hear these concepts, and sometimes you'll think you heard a direct lift from one of these songs. Chances are it was, or it was lifted from something else that lifted it from them. Every time I listen to a new song I can trace the concepts to something I first learned in these two songs, whether the creator knows it or not. It happened so much when I was a teenager that I finally gave up on it because there was no point anymore. After all, they were still pretty hokey when it came right down to it...

    ...OR SO I THOUGHT!!!

    Tonight, 42 years since the time I was taken through these two songs for the first time by Mr. Ron Gilotti (who still plays his ass off around here on upright and electric bass at age 75), I shall wait till it's a little quieter, and I am going to re-examine everything about these songs that makes them so important. I've already listened to a handful of different versions of each, and I'll sit down with the Real Book charts and a guitar and go through the chord changes and melodies first till I can play them halfway decently. Then I'll pick up a bass and try to think of ways to play a cool bassline and melody for them that don't sound like some ancient black and white musical on the Ancient Black And White Musical channel. BTW, Ella Fitzgerald doing "All The Things You Are" is required listening! And then I'm going to listen to about 10 original versions of songs from Duke just to cleanse the palette, the old-timier, the better.

    And then I'll figure out my own spin on playing them with what sounds good with the other guys and forget about it again :D But they never truly go away. No matter how far away from them you think you're getting, you're never any more than one degree away from them.

    TL DR; You can't ever call yourself an educated musician till you learn why "Autumn Leaves" and "All The Things You Are" are the two most awesome songs for musical education of all time. And even if you're not an educated musician, you will hear them one day and understand why your so-called "new discoveries in awesome new music nobody has ever heard anywhere else" are nothing but variations on the same old crap your great-great grandparents listened to that you're trying to avoid. Then go listen to some Duke Ellington...it's good for the soul.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  2. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    JimmyM likes this.
  3. LouBass

    LouBass Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2008
    Ann Arbor Michigan

  4. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Going from rock/blues, where you are hanging on the backbeat, to jazz, where you are trying to be on the front edge, without rushing, is an adjustment. And while I am not a big jazz guy, having to fit bass lines with the chord changes requires you to actually think while playing. But like you brought up in another thread, nothing like playing with some serious jazz musicians to learn what you don't know, and how much more there is to learn.

    I still am about a dozen levels below the guys I play with, but I keep everything grounded, and even get to play a few solos without embarrassing myself (too much).
  5. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    @JimmyM I'm very happy to hear you're getting into the groove with this outfit. You can do so much with some of these tunes so kudos to you guys for upping the tempo and having a blast.
    JimmyM likes this.
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    OK, that's enough of those songs for one night! Time to go nitpick about gear.
  7. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    Speaking of Duke, I'd add Harlem Nocturne to that list. My project finally started rehearsing today. That's another of our standards, and it has enough room for the guitarist to do some deep things with the tonal centers while I hang on to the tune - no drummer yet.

    My chart for this has notes like:
    "1950s LA Private Detective Movie Feel" and
    " 'So What' Voicings" in the little dance down at the end of the B section

  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That is an excellent call! I did this song years ago in a 5-pc with sax leading it.
    okcrum likes this.
  9. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    Autumn Leaves and All the Things You Are are a couple of my favorites. I played them regularly for about three decades and don't remember ever getting tired of them.

    I found that if I played All of Me too frequently that it became tiresome. IMHO it lays really well on the bass, so it's a great tune for someone who is just learning to walk.

    Satin Doll
    makes me want to :vomit:. Most people play it way too kitchy.
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    We're doing Satin Doll, too. Sorry. Agreed about All Of Me, but we're not doing that one. Yet.
    pellomoco14, DJ Bebop and Wasnex like this.
  11. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Be sure to check out the Eva Cassidy version of Autumn Leaves if you haven't.

    I've played both of those tunes a zillion times and the Blues Doods at open mikes used to bitch all the time about how often AL would get called. It does suck when people don't feel it, but so does everything else, pretty much. Yel_wink.gif
    Type-55, Roxbororob, DJ Bebop and 7 others like this.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Oops...I meant to type Ella Fitzgerald singing "All The Things You Are," not "Autumn Leaves." is a must-listen. Fixed it.
    juggahnaught and Passinwind like this.
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Wow, ain't that the truth???
    HolmeBass and Passinwind like this.
  14. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    Seattle, WA
    There are some articles on Google about the "best" well-known jazz standards and their progressions, and why they work, and why they are the "building blocks" of jazz. Autumn Leaves is a series of stacked 2-5-1 turnarounds, circle of fifths - very common in jazz and a good one to know. There's also stuff like Coltrane changes - different chord progression but good to know (not claiming that I do - playing jazz isn't my forte (yet!), but I do like the theory) and stuff like Rhythm changes which turns out to be a pretty common chord progression (and a very good way to understand tritone substitution).

    Glad you're having fun! Jazz is fun for sure and the timing is definitely different. I'm a fan of this Autumn Leaves version mainly because of Steve Gadd on drums, who was known for his "middle of the beat" timing from what I understand. (He's amazing in this track. It's one of my favorite renditions mainly because of that lovely ending phrase they add at the end of the form, it's just so good. :D)

    Do they have you doing any Latin and Bossa stuff yet - Ipanema, Blue Bossa? That stuff has a different feel and can be less technical, but it really grooves in a different way. I really like Dindi, which I haven't heard played often in jazz circles, but it's really good.

    Edit: Hey, man - if you do want to lay back in the groove a bit, you may request to play Red Clay. If you haven't, I highly suggest checking out both the Freddie Hubbard version and the Jack Wilkins version (made famous again by Tribe). They're both great.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  15. In this quantized, pitch-corrected and ProTooled world, I think learning to swing jazz standards is the ONLY ANTIDOTE, the only escape from being assimilated into the digital ether.

    I have spells when I feel I am swing-deficient and when that happens, Sinatra standing atop Nelson Riddle charts usually is like a wonder drug. Mangia !

    My gateway drug for this stuff was Natalie Cole's 'Unforgettable' the Phil Ramone produced project, which has the plus of being a modern recording where you can really hear the upright bass walking around (Patitucci in this case, I believe). Swings hard, and you can sure as hell hear that her Aunt Ella was certainly an influence !

    I'm afraid I'm quite useless at jazz, but I love listening to stuff that MAKES you snap your fingers. Hard to find these days . . . . I think it's just great Jimmy the M, and this stuff will make you grow in so many ways. Congrats !
  16. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Re: rushing on up-tempo swing.

    I have a natural tendency to do that on higher tempos, and usually there's at least someone who tells me not to. Which I find weird, hearing other people actually recommending that.
    Dabndug, DJ Bebop and JimmyM like this.
  17. Joebone

    Joebone Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Los Angeles
    "All the Things..." is a LIFETIME STUDY. Politely ignoring the mix of major and relative minor, it takes you through all 12 keys, in a fabulously logical way, with a gorgeous melody. Seem to recall reading an interview with Steve Swallow, ages ago, where he spoke of this tune as a practice vehicle, seeing if he could push the tempo at which he could play fluent (rather than prosaic) solos. Kicked my A** as a trombonist a zillion years ago, and now periodically part of my bass program. And "Autumn Leaves" is often dissed -- probably because it's been played too much, in compromised hands - but it does not lack mojo on its own account. But "All the Things" can be an exhilarating romp, particularly if you lose your ritual riffs and move toward a deeper engagement with the song.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  18. byacey


    May 16, 2008
    Alberta, Canada
    Another tune worthy of adding to the list is Petite Fleur; There's a few things to be learned here too.
    the harp unstrung and JimmyM like this.
  19. 2tonic


    Dec 22, 2015
    All worthy suggestions.
    I was always partial to the tension/resolve in "String of Pearls".
  20. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    No wonder you're partial to that one! Man, you can really tell that's Steve Gadd.

    Yep, both Blue Bossa and Ipanema. But I already knew them. Still adapting to the other guys' spin on them, like doing Ipanema pretty briskly. I've done Dindi before a handful of times but only with one band years ago. Couldn't tell you what it sounds like now if you put a gun to my head.

    Thx for the tip!
    juggahnaught and DJ Bebop like this.

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