Ted Gioia: Bio
TED GIOIA: BIOGRAPHY
Ted Gioia is a musician and author, and has published eleven non-fiction
books, including his latest work Music: A Subversive History (released in
October 2019 by Basic Books). His books have been translated into
Spanish, Italian, German, Greek, Turkish, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese.
Gioia's wide-ranging activities as a critic, historian, performer, educator and
YouTube presenter have established him as a leading global guide to music
past, present and future.
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, Smithsonian, The American Scholar, Music Quarterly,
The Daily Beast, Lapham's Quarterly, Bookforum, Salon, Dallas Morning
News, San Francisco Chronicle, The Quietus, The Guardian, Popular
Music, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, The Atlantic
Monthly, City Journal, The Threepenny Review, PopMatters, and The
"I can't speak highly enough about Music: A Subversive History writes
critic Michael Dirda in the Washington Post. The book has been praised
by Robert Christgau, in the Los Angeles Times as "a dauntingly ambitious,
obsessively researched work of cultural provocation." Composer Terry Riley
calls Gioia "one of the most perceptive writers on music" and praises his
new book as "a mind opening and totally engaging read."
Ted Gioia's previous book How to Listen to Jazz (Basic Books) was
selected as the best book of the year by the readers of Jazz Times magazine.
"Mr Gioia could not have done a better job." wrote 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
Gioia's previous book Love Songs: The Hidden History (Oxford University
Press), winner of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, stands out as 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). While working amidst the
venture capital community on Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley, Gioia
stood out from the crowd as the "guy with the piano in his office."
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.
He is also a frequent speaker at colleges, conferences and public events.
Gioia has given talks at the Library of Congress, the American Jazz Museum,
SF Jazz, the Barcelona Jazz Festival, the NY Times Center, Stanford
University and other locales in the US and abroad.
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 is a frequent guest speaker at colleges and conferences,
and conducts workshops on creativity. Gioia 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
Ted Gioia can be contacted at
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