HI, i'm in my schools jazz band. The director wants me to do TONS of improvising, plus soloing in the songs we play as well. My usage of the pentatonic scale is very, very boring to me, though it fits fine in the music.

My question is, can you just randomly start using, for instance, A dorian mode at any given time in a song? I don't really know how else to ask, but basically modes seem to be a great answer to my boring improvising and soloing.

Since it's jazz music, there are lots of minor type chords as well as 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, etc. I know how to read music and know basic theory but any help you can give me would be great. Just ask me to elaborate if i'm not clear enough.

Thanks in advance
Quote by yorkshireterror
Dunlop's got the right idea
Oh yeah, only took me a few months
Founder of the "I Support Robert Keeley Mods," if you like them too, put this in your sig!

i <3 breakdowns
dude its jazz it doesn't matter what you play or in what order...... j/k don't do that (unless you want an F in yer class) heres an example of a basic jazz modal progression, say a song is in A minor (for ease of ideas im using A minor) and your progression is

A minor, C major, D minor, E minor

i would start the solo in a minor (ABCDEFG), switch to C major scale of the c major chord (CDEFGAB) , d minor scale over the D minor chord (DEFGABC) and E phrygian(i think, i am thinking of EFGABCD) scale over that chord..... i believe a lot of jazz is worked out in this manner where you simply use the mode of the chord you are improving over.
I am also in my schools Jazz band. What I do alot when asked to improvize is to try and cop the licks from the lead instrument. Maybe find out what scale the saxs or whatever else is the lead in that song (trumpet, trombone, etc.) and then work out your own licks and ideas. As z4twenny said, using the mode of the chord you are improving over is a good idea, but it doesn't have to always be done. It's jazz, you have alot of freedom.
^ exactly, i was just suggesting a good solid tried and true start, as you said it is jazz, they're not exactly expecting you to have perfectly consonant phrasing the entire time (that is generally reserved for classical music)
how to tell what mode to use:

Chord played/Mode used

ta-da! but of course it won't be just diatonics. so for diminished chords, diminished scales, and for altered chords (b7 chords with #/b 5ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths) use the altered scale (1 b9 #9 3 b5 b13 b7).

hit the colorful notes in the chord--3rds, 7ths, and any extensions (9ths, etc). actually especially hit the extensions, as many as you can if there are several. arpeggios are very useful in jazz, as you hit all the chord tones.

good luck!