I Understand the conflict very well I did 2 years of jazz-school, (not that I have much to show for it, but...) and there a lot kids, including me, who where so desperate to being original or wanted to play off the scales, but we hardly even knew the existing scales and chords, and far from knowing them by heart. A teacher reminded us of how to keep it simple and stick to the basics. His teachers kept saying to him for years and years, to keep it MORE simple, even, more simple, you're doing to much, keep it more simple. Even when he was a 5th year graduate. He said, before you want to go and explore side tracks, its good to have a very good understanding of the basics. It has to be a second nature, THEN you can play stuff you re not supposed to play at specific spots, and still make it work, cause you KNOW what you are doing. I wish I was lol
When those guys did a teachers concert, you saw them coming in an halve hour in advance with some books with jazz standards, and started discussing which songs they where gonna play. Halve an hour later they started playing, and made new "jaw-dropping" songs on the spot. There where a few of them who where in my eyes VERY creative in there phrasing and how they used tensions in there chords and substitution chords to create whole new dimensions, but what they all had in common, was an insane knowledge of the basics.
i guess the intention with which you put yourself behind learning curtain things is the most important if you don't want to loose yourself in the process.