Kevin Eubanks said Monday during a taping of NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" that he is departing the late-night staple next month.
"After 18 years, I just need a change of pace and see what else is going on," the show's musical director said after Leno called him to the set's couch. "But it's a really difficult decision because this has become my second home."
Eubanks joined "Tonight" when Leno was tapped as host in 1992 and became musical director after Branford Marsalis left in 1995. He moved with Leno in the fall to "The Jay Leno Show" in primetime before returning with his longtime boss to "Tonight" on March 1, when they took over for Conan O'Brien.
The bandleader's final day on the show is May 28. NBC did not announce a replacement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.