Tonight, Brad and I were rehearsing Little Rootie Tootie, written by Thelonious Monk. We were phrasing the melody together nicely! When I tried to solo over the form, I was feeling boxed in by the chords of the A-sections. The song is Rhythm changes in Ab, but with a different bridge.
Brad gave me some great advice. Forget about the individual chord changes, and just play melodic phrases within the key of the song (Ab). Only allow yourself one embellishment: slip into the minor 4 chord for a different color (Db-), but usually only to introduce a new melodic idea. As an alternative to this embellishment, use the arpeggio of the relative major of the minor 4 chord (E major).
I tried this, and immediately I felt more free. The embellishment ideas sound very interesting and tasteful, and it’s fun to stick them in.