The saxophone is really unique in that, as with any instrument, it's got a legacy. It comes with a legacy. The saxophone's legacy is pretty big. There're many gods before us who have done amazing things on this instrument. There are a lot of things to reference and there are a lot of lessons to be learned from transcribing the greats. There's a language that also needs to be absorbed in order to be able to do your own thing, I believe.
When I first thought about soloing, the things that really helped me get to the next level were observing things from my heroes, like for example Cannonball Adderley. The first solo I ever transcribed of his really made me think about rhythm and time and groove, and also his sound and little nuances. One of the things I transcribed of his was from Freddy Freeloader, Miles Davis.
It really made me aware of the triplet. He's so strong with the triplet and it's kind of like a soul in his sound you couldn't really get if you don't take the time to learn all those things. On the flip side, someone like Paul Desmond really made me think about phrasing, question and answer and simplicity, really covering the harmony as well. Something like his solo on All the Things You Are, if you check it out it's...
You get the idea. Lots of question and answer, and I'm totally outlining the harmony. When it comes to building a solo of my own, I have a lot of things to think about and a lot of things to reference, as well as maybe coming up with my own ideas..