Art [Pepper]: Why I Stuck With a Junkie Jazzman By Laurie Pepper

By Kent & Keith Zimmerman

Just finished Laurie Pepper’s Art: Why I Stuck with a Junkie Jazzman, the long-awaited follow up to the classic 1979 autobio, Straight Life. As a true DIYer, Laurie Pepper released her new book through Amazon’s self-publishing arm, CreateSpace. Art is the story a lot of innovators can relate to, paving the road as you’re driving down it.
I was first turned on to Art Pepper seven or eight years after his 1982 death when a hi-fi salesman asked me if I was hip to Art, and had I read Straight Life? I recalled the Art Pepper LPs that used to flood into Gavin, mere months apart. Wasn’t smart (or hip) enough to dig into them. Not long after, a CD sampler arrived in the mail, a selection of Contemporary Records tracks from the 50s and 60s, Art’s label’s back catalog, recently purchased by Fantasy Records. CDs were just being serviced to writers, radio and the trades, and jazz sounded especially great on those early digital discs. On the sampler, the lead track was “You’d Be So Nice


On the Street Where You Live: Miles Davis Way, NYC

By Kent and Keith Zimmerman
It’s the rebirth of the cool. The official naming of a one-block stretch of 77th Street (between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue) in New York City after one of its most famous residents, Miles Davis, has finally happened. Yet, what was the genesis? An idea concocted by clever and cultural city politicians? Influential music executives out to sell records? No, actually. It started with one of Miles’ neighbors, Shirley Zafirau.
“He interacted with the community on the street,” said Zafirau to City Desk reporter Daniel Krieger last December. “He really liked being here.”
According to Zafirau, Miles spent time hanging out on the street in front of his building, chatting with neighbors and passers-by. After his passing in 1991, and after noticing that New York City had honored several jazz figures by naming portions of streets after such figures as Duke Ellington, it occurred to Zafirau. Why not Miles? After a campaign of numerous phone calls, emails and visits to local boards, she eventually worked her way up the political chain of command and lined up


Game-Changers Part 2: Miles Davis’ Warner Bros Era of Innovation

Kent & Keith Zimmerman
If you revisit Miles Davis’ albums on Warner Bros, specifically Tutu, Amandla and Siesta, you’ll hear musical sound beds in which Miles later inserted his own brand of melody in the form of spontaneous solos and melodic phrases. Consequently, Marcus Miller and Jason Miles would go back and elaborate on those melody lines. It was a form of innovation that harked back to the heydays of the Gil Evans orchestral sessions where Miles would take a seed idea improvised around the existing structure, which Gil Evans later enunciated on and emphasized with robust studio arrangements.
When they weren’t recording, Jason cherished the down time he spent with Miles socially, even after turning down the opportunity to tour and play live with the Davis band.
“I was never in Miles’ band,” Jason recalled. “but we became good friends. He’d come over to the house, hang out, and eat some great food. We’d watch gangster movies together, and drive out to some horse farms in the country.
Jason Miles
“Here I was, this Jewish guy from Brooklyn, and Miles and I were good


A Desire to Improve; the First Step to Innovation

by Robert Cullen
How does one become an innovator?  The first step is a deep desire, a drive, a passion to improve!!  Innovators want to improve themselves, people, processes and products. Master Innovators are all dedicated to continuous improvement:
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”  Benjamin Franklin  (Founding Father, Inventor)
“If I am through learning, I am through.”  John Wooden (Legendary Basketball Coach)
“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”  Max Dupree (Leadership Jazz)

It’s really that simple.  One has to want to improve themselves, their knowledge base, their skills, their team, the products on which they work and the environment around them.  Are you ready for this?  Can you do this? Do you have the will power?  We have to fight and overcome many fears– the fear of the unknown, lack of skills, lack of knowledge, comfort in the old ways, loss of security and a lack of willpower to name a few. But innovators want to improve, learn and change.  They are allergic to the status quo.  It


Game-Changers Part 1: A Rare Insight into the Miles Davis Warner Bros Era of Innovation

Kent & Keith Zimmerman
Let’s return to the subject of Miles Davis, because, to date, he is our epitome of innovation, and the subject of our upcoming book, Miles of Innovation: Lessons from the Creative Genius of Miles Davis. In doing so, we contacted our friend Jason Miles, who worked closely with Miles in the studio during the Warner Bros era of the late 1980s–a creative period not a lot of people are quite aware of. So marked a very significant period of Miles’ innovative output, centering around the releases of Tutu (1986), the film soundtrack from Siesta (1987) and the viciously melodic Amandla (1989).
“My tenure was very different from many people who worked with him because, I believe, it was at a very critical time,” said Jason. “Miles needed a game-changer! He had game-changers in the past like Bill Evans, Gil Evans, even Betty Mabry. Maybe she wasn’t a musician, but I believe had there been no Betty Mabry, maybe there would have been no fusion. She got his head into a whole new place. One day he’s wearing Italian


Dear Massimo…

Guest Blog By Nick Marazzo
Innovation is more than what we are aware of, the man who gave us everything from the NYC subway’s signage and map to the American Airlines logo, Massimo Vignelli, is currently spending his last days at home—and his son has an unusual request: Would you send him a note?

Luca Vignelli put out the call to the internet today on The Creative Review, asking that anyone for whom Vignelli was an influence or an inspiration to write him a letter (yes, an actual letter). The outpouring has been swift—Pentagram’s Michael Bierut, who worked for Vignelli for a decade, commented that “I know that one of Massimo’s biggest fantasies has been to attend his own funeral. This will be the next best thing. Pass the word.”

According Michae, “Luca said that Massimo would be thrilled to get notes of good wishes from people whom he’s touched or influenced – whether personally or remotely – over the years. Luca has visions of huge mail bags full of letters. I know that one of Massimo’s biggest fantasies has been to attend