Originally Posted by senp5f
Learn the melody to the song and embellish from there with groove elements. Victor Wooten uses this strategy quite often. If the song has a strong melody, let it do some of the work for you!
This is key. It has been said that if someone walks in during a solo, within 30 seconds the person should be able to tell what song you are playing (via the melody). I've started doing this and my solos are not only easier to do, but it is way more coherent.
The melody will contain the chord tones of the progression most of the time, so rather than connecting the chords, you should connect/embellish the melody notes.
So learn the head of the tune and go from there. Jaco said you should do this also... Having said all that, when I was first trying to get into soloing, I'd mention to my teacher that my solos always sucked and he would invariably say that I had a lot of the tools for soloing, but I simply haven't done it enough. It does take a lot of time to figure it out and in a live setting, it can be challenging. But I think the main reason they sucked at the time was that I'd never learned the head to the tune, so I ended up playing the correct notes, but it didn't say anything.... In my trio, I always learn the melodies now.
If I'm soloing on a jazz blues like Moanin' or Freddy Freeloader, I mainly just use pentatonics and put more emphasis on the groove and less on the melody notes, but in soloing standards like Green Dolphin Street or How High the Moon I don't worry about the groove too much and just try to be harmonically interesting and use the melody a lot. I still have a long way to go, but it's working so far.