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Ted Gioia

Critic and scholar, Ted is the author of "The Jazz Standards," "The History of Jazz" and "Delta Blues."

About Me

Ted Gioia is a musician and author, and has published seven non-fiction books. 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's most recent book is The Birth (and the Death) of Cool, a work of cultural criticism and a historical survey of hipness. “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.”

From 2007 until 2010, Gioia served as founding president, editor and resident blogger for 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 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. Around this same time, Gioia published The History of Jazz, which continues to rank among the best selling jazz books on the market.

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.

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