The concept of "Lead Improviser"

To me, one of the strangest tradition in jazz improvisation is that people don't usually accompany drum solos. In most cases, the drummer would still be playing over the form, so it's not logical to just abandon him just because it's a drum solo.

Years ago a friend of mine told me, "Well, I guess it's because we think it's time for you to shine."
My answer: "Well, why don't you accompany me and help me shine then? That's what I've been doing the whole tune after all - I accompany every one of you guys, providing you with grooves, dynamics, accents and ideas, responding to your ideas and help you shine along with other accompanists. I think it'd be only fair if you do the same for me!"

People like to compare a group improvisation to a conversation. According to this analogy, the situation can be described like this:
A group of people is having a conversation over a topic. Everyone expresses their opinion about it, everyone else chimes in, nods along, agrees/disagrees, etc. - in others words, they give the real time, spontaneous feedback to the speaker at the moment. Very lively, fun chit-chat. And then ...as the drummer starts to give his share of thoughts, everyone else just stops talking and it turns into a speech. God, I hate that feeling.

Actually, I think the term solo in jazz context is misleading - or plain false. In most cases, a soloist doesn't play alone. He might be the featured improviser at the moment, but everyone else is improvising with him, too.

I also think that, to really have a conversation with music (not that you have to, but if you want to), we need to forget this old "soloist-accompanists" mentality and start learning from our real life conversational patterns. When we talk among ourselves, we don't designate soloists or set length. Someone might be leading the conversation at one moment, but it could be someone else a few seconds later, not because he was given his turn, but because the conversation naturally led that way. It's more of a continuous, organic process.

So, instead of "soloist," I'd like to use the term "lead improviser" to describe the person who leads the musical conversation at any given moment. I think this concept might get us out of the haunted "head-solo-solo...solo-head" routine and open the door to the world of real collective improvisation, where all the talks are interactive, multidirectional and continuous, and even the drummer won't be left alone when he happens to lead the conversation in the process.