Autumn Leaves

“Autumn Leaves” (“Les Feuilles mortes” in its original French), with its wistful hook, is one of the most recorded melodies. Here are two of the best performances.

Yves Montand

Montand was the one of the first to perform “Les Feuilles mortes,” in a 1946 film called Les Portes de la nuit (Gates of the Night). He became associated with the song and recorded it many times. Yves Montand was a gifted actor and a self-assured movie star. This version of the song is proof that he was also an exceptional musician.

(4 minutes)

Bill Evans Trio

“Autumn Leaves” is tremendously popular with jazz musicians, who love its drifting, chromatic harmony. This uptempo performance from 1959 is a prime example of the clarity in Bill Evans’s playing–his clarity of tone and the way he delineated voices and rhythms, but most of all the clarity of his thinking about the direction the music should take. The track is remarkable also for the unity and interplay among the members of this legendary trio.

Performed by Bill Evans (piano), Scott LaFaro (bass), and Paul Motion (drums) (6 minutes)

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