All the Things You Are

(by Jerome Kern)

All the Things You Are is a definite “must” in the jazz repertoire. Composed by Jerome Kern in 1939 for his last Broadway show Very Warm for May. Lyrics by Hammerstein II. The show was a financial disaster. Jazz critics ruined it, you know…

This composition nevertheless became one of the great standards anyways. Take that you critics!

So, whatever the critics have said at the time (over 70 years ago), everybody plays and records that tune nowadays. All serious jazz players know it. And most of them have their little “personal take” on the song. And by serious players I mean Pat Metheny, Brad Meldhau and the likes.

In a few words: All the Things You Are is not only fun to improvise on, but it is also a brilliant composition. The effect created by the modulations to remote keys is reminiscent of romantic music.

Because of its interesting features in melody, harmony and form All the Things You Are is played at all kinds of tempos and in many different styles. Young musicians still play this tune quite a lot … even in 3/4 feel. (Yup, my fault!) Or, how about in “7” like Brad Meldhau?

Chord Melody

All the things you are - jazz guitar chord melody

Chord Melody – Preview

Now there’s TWO distinct chord melody arrangements of the song:

Both PDFs above contain:

  • the lead sheet (with chord symbols + melody),
  • the chord melody arrangement (played in the video and audio here)
  • a basic chord chart (basic guitar shapes for you to use.)

Audio Demonstration: EASY Chord Melody

For your convenience, I have created an audio (mp3) file of the easy-level chord melody. I took some liberties in the performance, but it can still be a reference for harmony and melody.

Video Demonstration: Intermediate Chord Melody

This video is A.T.T.Y.A. jazz guitar chord melody (intermediate level) demonstrated, with some improvisation. See the PDF (with TABS) for the complete *intermediate* arrangement. This is just to give you an idea of some of the performance possibilities on that song.

Suggested listening

Pat Metheny’s frantic version on his trio album Trio->Live is still my favorite. Fasten your seat belt! (There’s also the Pat Metheny version from the album Questions and Answers). Metheny also goes at it DUO with Jim Hall (MUST hear, it’s incredible.) Also check out pianists Keith Jarret (Standards Vol. I, 1983) and Brad Mehldhau (The Art of the Trio Vol. IV, 1999) for inspiration and ideas.

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