Ted Gioia: Bio
TED GIOIA -- BIOGRAPHY
Ted Gioia is a musician and author, and has published eight non-fiction
books, most recently the bestselling The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the
Repertoire, published by Oxford University Press in July 2012. His 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. 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 been called "one of the outstanding music historians in
America" by the Dallas Morning News. 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 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
From 2007 until 2010, Gioia served as founding president, editor and
resident blogger for www.jazz.com, a popular web music media portal. In
addition, Gioia's writings have appeared in The New York Times, the Los
Angeles Times, Salon, American Scholar, Hudson Review, and the San
Francisco Chronicle, among other publications.
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
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.
Around this same time, Gioia published The History of Jazz, which
continues to rank among the best selling jazz books on the market. A
revised and expanded version of The History of Jazz was released in
In 2012, Oxford University Press published Gioia's most recent book,
The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire, to great fanfare.
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 jazz
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.
greatbooksguide.com, www.fractiousfiction.com, www.thenewcanon.com,
www.postmodernmystery.com and www.conceptualfiction.com.
Ted Gioia can be contacted at
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