Photo courtesy Verve Music Group
The point of improvisation is for it to come off the top of your head. None of my solos are worked out. Even though we play a lot of the same tunes every night and it could get easy to get locked into a comfort zone, you’re working from the inspiration of the band and you’re trying to inspire them as well. We’re all policing each other. A lot of times I’m not aware of having played something special until one of the band members reacts or when I listen back to the tape. If you try to do the same thing again, you wind up sounding forced and then it’s not improvisation anymore.
But there are certain things I always have to work on for my language to expand. Until I am comfortable with whatever I am working on — patterns, tones, etc. — my solo could wind up sounding very formulaic and stiff. But when I’m comfortable with those lessons, then I forget about the patterns and start making music.