So I am playing the song What is Hip by Tower of Power tomorrow night with the school jazz band (I play bari sax). I opted to take an 8 bar solo but have found myself in over my head. I have never been great at improv but my attempts this time around are just sad. I am calling upon your musical expertise in helping me to write and or improv and 8 bar funk solo on sax.
You have to get a feel for the musical dialect of jazz. The only way to do that is to listen to a lot of jazz.

...modes and scales are still useless.

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Well there are people out there who can help you a lot better than myself, but I can do my best to give you advice, being a saxophonist in jazz band myself.

First, for improve, you should identify the chord changes in those 8 bars. Knowing what chords you're playing over will let you know which notes to play.
Additionally, for jazz, a lot of the time, when switching between the chords, half steps sound good (as in B to Bb or F to E).
Once you know which notes you're using when and where, it just becomes a matter of feeling the rhythm of what you're playing over and putting together melodies quickly using your knowledge of the instrument.

/bad explanation
Your asking a guitar forum. As a guitarist who plays with wind instruments, they don't even understand what I'm talking about when it comes to improv theory. Guitar can be imporv-ed easily becasue there are alot of shapes and patterns that can be moved around easily.

I don't know a think about the bari-sax in improv so my best advice is to find the minor key of the song, and use the I, b III, IV, V, b VII (First, Flat third, fourth, fifth, flat seventh), and maybe the occasional b V (flat fifth) notes of the realtive key. This is commonly known as the pentatonic, and is pretty useful for stuff in simple jazz, blues, rock, and funk. Just come up with a couple licks using those notes and you should be fine, 8 bars will be over in a breeze. I had to use a key change in a 64 bar solo becasue I ran out of Ideas for one song once.

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