I have no idea why people refer to "Autumn Leaves" -and play it - as "jazz." This was not written as jazz, nor was it intended to be jazz. It is a romantic ballad, and a very beautiful one.
The lyrics are clearly for a romantic ballad, and the introduction, which for some inexplicable reason is rarely played, is itself as beautiful and lyrical as the rest of the song, and clearly sets the stage for a ballad, not jazz.
I cringe every time I hear this beautiful song played as jazz. Sure, you can jazz up any music, but that doesn't mean you should. You can play a jazzed up rendition of "Ave Maria," but it would sound as preposterous as does a jazzed up version of any romantic ballad.
Here is the whole song played as it should be. The introduction is abbreviated, but still speaks for itself.
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