Wow, did I really not have any Ron Carter transcriptions on here before this? What a sin.
I had the pleasure of seeing him live in Boston at the Regatta and he was every bit as good as I hoped he would be. I went up to him after the show and, the open-jawed college boy I was, stuttered through a cheesy smile, "You're... you're my favorite bass p-p-p-layer..." Standing there in his usual pristine suit and tie, he just quietly looked back and said, "Thanks."
I think he signed my playbill thingy (hard to say... most of the night blacked out after he spoke to me) and I went home happy.
Anyway, I'd played "Wave" by Antonio Carlos Jobim at any number of jazz jams but hadn't ever transcribed the original. What struck me about the bass line is Carter's use of recurring motifs. The slide-up in measures 16, 28, etc. is repeated through the song.
Patternizing a small, unique idea (to my ears) gives a song a richer personality. It's not that playing random, different ideas each time through the song is BAD, not at all! ... And especially at a jazz gig when you might play 20 choruses, instead of the few played in this original version, it might make sense to mix it up considerably.
You hear great studio musicians do this all the time - Jonathan Moffet comes to mind right away. He plays patterns, over and over and over again. Consistently. Precisely.
If you were to isolate this beat apart from all other instruments, odds are good you could still pick it out as "Smooth Criminal." There's a sense of composition and arrangement to it.
I believe great improvised bass lines are the same - there's a sense of composition to them, even though they're improvised.
Photo credit: By Brianmcmillen - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73178342