Learn How To Apply 10 New Piano Chords To The Jazz Tune Autumn Leaves

image by ssr.ist4u

This jazz piano lesson is going to be a monster one!

Not only are we going to learn 10 new jazz chords but we’ll also learn how to apply them to the tune Autumn Leaves.

These powerful chords I’m going to teach you are known as “rootless 2 handed piano voicings”.

These piano chords are the solution for simple comping behind other instruments in a quartet situation. They work great when there’s a bass player laying down the root of the chords on the bottom end. You can even occasionally use them in solo piano playing or in your improvisation.

They’ll be a perfect addition to your jazz chords toolbox. (Once you finish this lesson be sure to also check out this more advanced blues piano lesson using rootless jazz chords as well.)

Now, on to our lesson.  Let’s get started! (Notation, audio examples, tips, and chord chart below.)

Autumn Leaves Chords Example

(You can click to Expand All these Chords. There are 4 separate pages)

autumn leaves chords

autumn leaves chords

autumn leaves chords

autumn leaves chords

Bonus Audio: Here’s a quick example recording I made of these chords. It’s very important to also hear what these chords sound like. I play the “Charleston rhythm” the whole time (This is an attack on beat 1 and and attack again on the “& of 2”). I’ve kept the rhythm simple so you can hear the chords better.

(click to listen)

6 Tips On Playing These Jazz Chords

1. In general, these chords are played with only the 3rd and the 7th in the left hand.

2. The right usually plays 1-2 tensions or extensions of the chord. (If you need more info on this check out this jazz extension lesson)

3. The only chord that I don’t follow this “rule of thumb” on is the Amin7(b5) chord.  I actually play a root in this chord. I play an A diminished triad in my left hand and the minor 7th and natural 9 in my right hand. Bill Evans use this chord voicing quite often.

4. As I mentioned earlier I’m using the Charleston Rhythm in the recording. You’ll want to learn this rhythm. Additionally, I highly recommend you at your own rhythms to the chords.  I kept them simple here for the sake of demonstration 🙂

5. Even though I’ve demonstrated these chords using Autumn Leaves it would be a good idea to start applying these chords to other jazz tunes.  (If you need some fake book recommendations then check out this fake book review.

6. For a much more in depth and advanced study of these rootless chords I recommend you watch this rootless 2 handed jazz chords lesson. I teach alot more interesting rhythms, chord substitutions, and all kinds of other cool stuff.


I hope you all really enjoyed this lesson? Do you find these chords interesting?  If so, please leave a comment below. How do you plan on using these new chords? Share with the community!

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  • Nancy

    Thanks Steve for your postings!
    I am learning and enjoying every time.

  • pete

    Steve, this site is great.  I hope it lasts forever.  Jazz is great music and engages the mind too.  Thanks

  • Paul Tidyman

    Great lesson, sincere thanks, Steve, for making this stuff available. And did I mention understandable??

  • Ade. Ajayi

    God this is wonderful

  • Jpotter

    Hi there,

    I can’t seem to download the audio for the chords for Autumn leaves.
    What am I doing wrong??
    Ray Potter

  • Amazing! Your website is truly great. Thanks for all your hard work.

  • Geoff H.

    Hi Steve, Just love all the info you’re sharing with everyone, its simply great. So many thanks. Tiny wee point, I can’t find where to click for the audio track of Autumn Leaves. Is there ant way you could email it to me?

    Again my sincerest thanks.

    Geoff H.

  • Carlos

    Steve, I find this lessons very useful, you are helping me to improve my improvisation, chord voicing… my playing in general. You are making easier my objective to enter to a high College of music.
    Just one thing, in this wonderful lesson (I liked very much that you show the Am7(b5) Bill Evans chord voicing) I think there’s a mistake in chord notation in bar 24, it would be a Eb6/9 instead of Bbmaj7. Am I wrong?

    • Hi Carlos. Happy to hear that you’re enjoying the lessons! The chords in bar 24 could be played as Ebmaj 6/9 or a Bbmaj7. The nice part about rootless voicings is that they often times can be used w/ different bass notes.

  • Jeff Osvold

    Hi Steve,
    I’ve been getting into jazz piano lately (from classical) and as I look at the chord symbols I find myself wondering why 9ths, 13ths, etc. are sometimes not written in. Like in the 2nd measure of the Autumn Leaves progression I see a G and a D written in on the top staff but the chord symbol simply says F7. In jazz, is it common to not have these pitches noted in the chord symbols? Or are they just colorful tones that you added yourself?

    Thanks, Jeff

    Also, I love the lessons and really appreciate the solo transcriptions. They’ve been a boon to my development 🙂

    • Thanks Jeff! The extensions of the chords are optional and depend on the sound, the style, and the feeling you choose to convey.

  • Alex Greenstone

    Thanks! This will help a lot with an upcoming performance