Composed by Jerome Kern
All the Things You Are is a definite “must” in the jazz repertoire. The tune was composed by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II in 1939 for Kern’s last Broadway show, Very Warm for May.
As has been commonplace in jazz history, the critics tore the show apart and it was quite a financial disaster.
Nevertheless, the tune become one of the all-time great jazz standards. Take that, you critics!
As previously mentioned, it is a must-know for any serious or aspiring jazz musician and it is often called on gigs and jam sessions. Many of the greats have recorded some wonderful versions over the years. I particularly enjoy Pat Metheny’s version as well as Brad Mehldau’s.
The Nuts and Bolts
All the Things You Are is not only a fun tune 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. The melody is quite sparse and allows for lots of freedom with its interpretation.
Harmonically, the tune cycles through 4ths starting from the vi of each key and then has a surprise modulation at the end of each section. Improvisers beware, you don’t want to be caught by unprepared here.
The form is also particularly unusual. It is 36 bars in length with an AA2BA3 form. Kind of weird, I know, but that’s one of the things that really makes this tune so interesting. This form tends to trip beginners up, so be sure you know where you are!
All the Things You Are: Introduction
Many play this tune with this very popular intro. I first heard this introduction on Charlie Parker’s version. In fact, I do believe that he and Dizzy Gillespie are credited for this intro. Either way, be sure you know it if you are learning this tune.
All the Things You Are: Comping Ideas
Here are a few shapes you can use when comping for this tune. This song in particularly has a very open melody so that leaves the accompanist with a good bit of freedom. Of course, it’s never a good idea to abuse it, but it’s nice to have!
All the Things You Are: Chord Melody
As usual, we are making use of shell voicings and drop 2 voicings. Exceptions will come up here and there to accommodate the melody and add some color, but they are the basis of most of this chord melody. Be sure to get these shapes under your belt as they are vital to any jazzer’s chord vocabulary.
In the B section, I’ve seen that Am7 played as Am7 and Am7b5. Since this is chord melody, I like the added color of Am7b5. The same is the case for the F#m7.
All the Things You Are: Single-Note Solo
In this solo, we are simply attempting to make use of the concepts covered on this website, such as soloing with guide-tones and making use of space, good phrasing, etc.
As always, you can take some of the licks here and applying them to other tunes right away. This is why transcribing is so helpful!
All the Things You Are: Chord Reference Sheet
In addition to all of this great content, we have also provided you with a reference sheet full of some basic chord shapes you can use over this tune.
-Pat Metheny’s Trio → Live album released in 2000. This one is still my favorite. Fasten your seat belt! Pat really takes you for a ride here.
-Pat Metheny & Jim Hall’s Jim Hall & Pat Metheny album released in 1999. There is some really neat contrapuntal stuff going on here between the two of them. They really always seem to put the music first.
-Keith Jarret’s Standards Vol. I album released in 1983. What a recording. Everything this guy does is always so free and inventive.
-Brad Mehldau’s The Art of the Trio Vol IV released in 1999. What’s there to say about Mehldau that hasn’t been said already? He shows us just how much you can stretch time while still making something sound so beautifully lyrical.
Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, “brains behind” and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar.