Cliché playing may be okay to a point, and maybe you learn by playing clichés, but then you throw all of that stuff aside. It’s just like when I am working a piece of music, I will study the music, I will learn the music. Maybe that’s what I meant when I said there is some kind of formal aspect to this, so I learn the melody, the chord progression, in preparation for my instrumental improvisation.
Now when I improvise after learning formally these things, I forget them. I don’t go up on the stage and think of them. I forget them and that’s where the creativity comes in. That little area is quite mysterious. Music is magical, we all know that, and that area where you create and your subconscious is at work and you don’t know what you’re playing. Often I play things—if I’m in the right groove—I’ll play things where I surprise myself. Those are things that are deep in my subconscious, and they come out during my improvisation, but they are not things I went into the song thinking about. They are things I hear, and they come out. - Sonny Rollins
( The ever playful Sonny Rollins doing St Thomas. - Ed )