Joe Pass Reharmonization on Autumn Leaves Transcription

Joe Pass has been one of the greatest jazz guitarist, especially when it comes to solo guitar playing. Many has noted his use of complex harmony on the spot in his solo guitar performances. That’s why although this is a piano blog, we can still benefit a lot from studying his reharmonization techniques. First check out this cool video of Joe showing his musical prowess in his solo guitar playing.


So here I chose one of the simplest of jazz standards, where every jazz musician should know the basic chord progressions, so studying the transcription of joe’s version will be very enlightening when we can see how he fluorishes those simple progressions into breath takingly beautiful harmonies.

Here is the transcription in the usual PDF format..


It should be noted that the rhythm value and placement of the melody notes aren’t entirely correct due to the fact that Joe is playing most of the song in free time, but it gives a very good idea of how he constructs fill ins between empty spaces.

Chromatic and Diatonic Chord Movements 

You can also see how guitarists move their chords chromatically a lot, due to the nature of the instrument. An example would be bar 17, where he moved the original B chord a semitone up to C then back again, instead of just leaving it static on a B7 chord. Bars 22-23 is even more beautiful, with the Ab functioning as a tritone substitution to the dominant 7th chords which leads to G, it also blends very well with the movement of the melody note from C to B. The movement in bar 41 is a little bit different however but no less interesting, this time round the notes C and E a major third apart are moved diatonically instead of chromatically.

Altering Chord Extensions 

The usual F# chord in this song function as a supertonic chord in the key of E minor, where in the normal case would be extended into an F#m7(b5) chord. But it is also a very nice opportunity for the player to redecorate it into something else. Joe demonstrated this concept perfectly in this song, see how most of the F# chord has been altered into something else, creating some wonderful colours to the harmony. ( the F#alt chord in bar 61 actually contains a raised 5th and a raised 9th in it. )

These are just some easily notable things in the transcription, close inspection will reveal many more interesting techniques to be learnt and applied. So like always, have fun and enjoy……. 🙂

For more advance reharmonization techniques with video, transcription and analysis, check out these articles:

I Love You Porgy Advance Reharmonization Techniques 

Round Midnight Advance Reharmonization Techniques

Other transcription of great jazz guitar playing:

Pat Metheny mp3 and Transcription , And Then I Knew

Tuck Andress I Wish Guitar Transcription

Advance Blues Solo Technique – Oteil Burbridge Solo Transcription


  • Stan Birdwell

    Reply Reply December 22, 2009

    Since E (note below third ledger line) is the lowest note that a guitar has, how does one play a D# (fourth ledger line below staff) in, if I counted correctly, measure 45 (over the F# half-diminished chord)?

    I don’t believe that Joe played a seven string.

  • rewsnat

    Reply Reply January 9, 2010

    Maybe I wrote it on the wrong octave then, but you get the idea.. 🙂

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