Kevin Eubanks, the popular band leader on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," has announced he is leaving the U.S. chat show in six weeks.

The jazz musician joined the "Tonight" staff in 1992 and became the show's musical director in 1995.

E! News said he announced his departure during Monday's edition of "Tonight."

"After 18 years, I just need a change of pace and see what else is going on," Eubanks said. "But it's a really difficult decision because this has become my second home, as it has been for the band, and I love the audience and the American people really love the show, and it's been a wonderful experience to be here."

"It has been a pleasure," Leno told his longtime collaborator. "You've been a great friend and really supportive. When those jokes die, I gotta look to you, man."

Eubanks did not specifically describe his future plans, but quipped, "After 18 years of playing America in to commercials, I'm gonna go somewhere where I can finish a song."