Ted Gioia: Bio
TED GIOIA: BIOGRAPHY
Ted Gioia is a musician and author, and has published ten non-fiction
books, most recently the acclaimed How to Listen to Jazz (Basic Books).
"Mr Gioia could not have done a better job." writes The Economist. "Through
him, jazz might even find new devotees." This book "fills an important and
obvious gap by offering a sensible and jargon-free introduction," according to
the Washington Post, and "deserves a place alongside....classic works of jazz
Gioia has been called "one of the outstanding music historians in America"
by the Dallas Morning News. He has served on the faculty of Stanford
University, and published in many of the leading newspapers, periodicals
and websites, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall
Street Journal, The American Scholar, Music Quarterly, Bookforum,
Salon, Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, Popular Music,
Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, The Atlantic Monthly,
City Journal, The Threepenny Review, PopMatters, and The Hudson
Review. He is currently columnist for The Daily Beast.
Gioia's previous book Love Songs: The Hidden History (Oxford University
Press) has been one of the most influential music history books of recent
years. This path-breaking book represents the first complete survey of 5,000
years of the music of romance, courtship and sexuality. "Gioia’s book covers
a tremendous amount of ground and gives you something to remember on
almost every page," declares The New Yorker. "He invites the critic’s cliché
'wonderfully erudite', and earns it, not to mention the even cheaper critical
term 'provocative', though he earns that, too." The Atlantic Monthly calls Love
Songs "a mind-expanding, deep-focus piece of scholarship....Gioia’s book
achieves intellectual liftoff, high learning combining with high imagination."
Gioia is perhaps best known as the author of The History of Jazz, which
has sold more than 100,000 copies and ranks as the bestselling survey of jazz
published during the last quarter century. The History of Jazz was selected as
one of the twenty best books of the year by Jonathan Yardley in the
Washington Post, and was chosen as a notable book of the year in the
New York Times. In 2012, Gioia released the bestselling The Jazz
Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire, published by Oxford University
Press. The book received early praise from Dave Brubeck and Sonny
Rollins, and was lauded by the Wall Street Journal as "the first general-
interest, wide-ranging and authoritative guide to the basic contemporary
From 2007 until 2010, Gioia served as founding president, editor and
resident blogger for www.jazz.com, a popular web music media portal.
In 2006, Gioia published two books simultaneously, Work Songs and
Healing Songs, the result of more a decade of research into traditional
music, and both works were honored with a special ASCAP-Deems
Taylor Award. Gioia’s 2008 book Delta Blues, published by W.W.
Norton, was also selected by The New York Times as one of the 100
most notable of the year, and was picked as one of the best books of
the year by The Economist. Gioia has also written extensively on
popular culture, most notably in his 2009 book The Birth (and the Death)
of Cool, a work of cultural criticism and a historical survey of hipness—
his concept of post-cool, outlined in this work, was highlighted as one
of the "ideas of the year" by Adbusters. "The prose is so strong, simple
and evocative that it brings the reader almost to tears with longing," The
Washington Post has written of this book. "It will force you to think about
making connections you haven't made before.”
Gioia was raised in a Sicilian-Mexican household in Hawthorne,
California, a working class neighborhood in the South-Central area of
Los Angeles. Gioia was valedictorian and a National Merit Scholar
at Hawthorne High School, and attended Stanford University. There
he received a degree in English (graduating with honors and distinction),
served as editor of Stanford’s literary magazine, Sequoia, and wrote
regularly for the Stanford Daily. He was a member of Stanford’s College
Bowl team, which was featured on television, and defeated Yale in the
national finals. Gioia also worked extensively as a jazz pianist during
this period, and designed and taught a class on jazz at Stanford while
still an undergraduate.
After graduation, Gioia received a degree in Philosophy, Politics and
Economics at Oxford University, where he graduated with first class
honors. He then received an MBA from Stanford University.
Gioia has enjoyed successes in the worlds of music, writing and
business. In the business world, Gioia has consulted to Fortune 500
companies while working for McKinsey and the Boston Consulting
Group. He helped Sola International complete an LBO and IPO on the
New York Stock Exchange in the 1990s. He has undertaken business
projects in 25 countries on five continents, and has managed large
businesses (up to $200 million in revenues).
But Gioia is best known for his activities in the jazz world. He worked
with Stanford's Department of Music in the 1980s to establish a formal
jazz studies program, and served on the faculty alongside artist-in-
residence Stan Getz, for several years. Around this time, Gioia's first
book was published by Oxford University Press, The Imperfect Art,
which was awarded the ASCAP-Deems Taylor award and was named
a “Jazz Book of the Century” by Jazz Educators Journal. Gioia released
his first recording as a jazz pianist a few months later -- The End of the
Open Road, a trio recording with Eddie Moore and Larry Grenadier –
and received airplay on more than 500 radio stations in the US. Gioia
also produced a series of recordings featuring other West Coast jazz
musicians. Gioia has since recorded two more CDs, Tango Cool and
The City is a Chinese Vase.
Gioia’s follow-up book for Oxford University Press, West Coast Jazz, is
frequently acknowledged as one of the classics of the jazz literature.
West Coast Jazz was re-issued in an expanded edition by University of
California Press in 1998 and remains the definitive work on the subject.
Gioia's current interests cover a wide range of areas. He is composing
a series of solo piano pieces that draw both from jazz and classical
music traditions. He also reviews contemporary fiction for various
periodicals and his writing on books can be found at his web sites
www.thenewcanon.com, www.postmodernmystery.com and
Ted Gioia can be contacted at
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