McCoy Tyner Style – Autumn Leaves

MIDI File, Notation File and Backing Track File for this video are all available on my website at:

My McCoy Tyner Style videos appear to be some of the most requested, and one of the questions I am asked is “what pentatonic scale is played over what chord?” I have tried to demonstrate that in this video.

I have take the song “Autumn Leaves”, played enough of the melody at the very beginning to identify it as such, and then proceeded to demonstrate how I think “pentatonically” while soloing over the changes. McCoy does this entirely effortlessly (which is what makes him the Real McCoy), while I struggle through – bear with me through my struggles and take away from the demonstration what you may.

IMO, one of the keys for me when playing in this style is to have set “landing zones” or “safety zones”. These are chords and lines that give the listener a reference point within the context of the improvisation. Most of the time, I use the A-7b5 to D7 chord change as my “landing zone”. When
taking the improv “outside” the listener needs some reassurance that you will bring them back. It is the whole tension and resolve that makes for the excitement and the “safety zones” bring comfort to the listener, and sometimes a sigh of relief.

Notice the substitution of sus chords as well as chromatic II-V’s.

Production Notes:
I am using a Roland FP-4 keyboard as a MIDI controller for Pianoteq III software modeled VST plug-in running through Reaper. Backing track created with Band-in-a box with additional cymbal work courtesy of the FP-4 drum kit. On-screen keyboard from Band-in-a box captured with Camtasia
software. Per request, Left and Right hands split red and blue, although not exact.Video compositing done with Adobe Premiere Elements and final rendering with Serif MoviePlus X3. Yeah, it takes a little bit of work to do these.

I will take suggestions on other jazz standards you would like to see done in this style, and possibly even post one or two in the future. 😉