If you like to become a better improvisor over chord progressions, you have to learn the right language, the right vocabulary. Running a scale up and down does not sound very attractive. This material has to be turned into nice musical phrases. Rhythmically and melodic. The right language for this is "bebop", developed by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Bud Powell around 1940. All great jazz musicians master the bebop language. And you can too now!
The best way to master the bebop language and create your own language with it, is to copy other players. Sometimes this is hard and takes a lot of energy and time. But "Talking Bebop" makes this very easy for you. In Talking Bebop you discover how you can play attractive and melodic improvisations over jazz-standards by just 32 smart beboplicks often played by great jazz musicians like Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Sonny Rollins and Sonny Stitt.
Other ingredients are the use of the original melody, chord arpeggio's, repeating patterns (sequences) and sections of iconic improvisations from great players like Michael Brecker, Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley and Kenny Garett.
For maximum result follow these steps:
First play the solo example from the sheet music or by ear. You can use the play along track from soundcloud to play along with. If you do, be sure you hear the bass line. Therefore, on devices like a telephone or a laptop use a headphone. From playing along you do not ony learn the notes and rhythms, you also improve your jazzfeel. Of course you can also play the example on your own. The chart is available as a pdf file and transposed for your instrument. Depending on the instrument you play, you sometimes might have to jump up or down an octave on some sections to make it easier playable.
Then focus on the text in the sheet music where you find out why some licks were used. In this way you get the real understanding of the example. After this, choose your own favorite part from the example and play this part on the section using the play along track. Or even better, without any track. After a while this might get boring. This is the moment that you try to change the lick rhythmically and/or melodically to fit better to your preferences. Really try to incorporate it naturally into the rest of your improvisation.
You might develop your own ideas from studying like this. Apply the same principle to another tune you like to play, or extend it as an technical exercise on your instrument. You may also practice a phrase in another key so that you can apply it on the same chord progression in another tune's key. From here you can develop your own style.
Then, if you perform on your rehearsal or concert, it's the moment of letting go of everything you practiced. Rely on your inspiration, ears and fingers that you play nice ideas in your improvisation. You will find out that at some sections you can play the licks you studied almost without effort because they are in your memory. Your focus should be on the story you tell on your instrument.