Ralph Burns studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and, by his own admission, learned the art of jazz arranging through transcribing from records. At first Burns joined the Charlie Barnet organization, but by 1944 he was working with Woody Herman "second herd" as the band's pianist and chief arranger. Burns composed several of the instrumental standards associated with Herman, including "Bijou" and "Apple Honey." But Burns scored a bull's-eye with the three-part extended work "Summer Sequence" in 1945, still regarded as one of the most advanced big-band charts of its day. The final movement of "Summer Sequence," "Early Autumn" became the solo showcase that brought saxophonist Stan Getz into the public spotlight in 1947. With lyrics by Johnny Mercer added, "Early Autumn" became a favorite of jazz vocalists and something close to being a vocal standard.