Ted Gioia, President and Editor of Jazz.com, Steps Down

Ted Gioia by Kent Barker
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Ted Gioia
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Ted Gioia, longtime president and editor of jazz.com, confirmed today that he will be stepping down as editor of the Web site in a few weeks. Gioia refused to comment on the future of the site, for which he not only assigned pieces, but also wrote a considerable amount. Among the regular contributors to jazz.com are a number of JazzTimes writers including Nat Hentoff, Chris Kelsey and Larry Appelbaum, as well as other notable jazz writers such as Stuart Nicholson and Ted Panken.

When contacted by JT about the future of the site, Gioia simply stated that he had “no comment.” He also declined to refer us to any other staff or contact at jazz.com for comment. JT contacted several contributors about Gioia, the site and its future. “In Ted Panken, Stuart Nicholson, and its many other contributors, Jazz.com employs some of the best interviewers in the business,” wrote Chris Kelsey, who also edits material for jazz.com. “These guys are indefatigable in the way they get and write-up interviews, and once they get them, they display a rare depth of knowledge. We’ve gotten so many superb interviews with some of greatest jazz musicians now active. And they keep coming and coming. The encyclopedia gives in-depth info on a huge number of players, many of whom are not much documented elsewhere. The track reviews are a big innovation. Speaking for myself, I love being able to write three or four hundred words about a single performance, as opposed to being limited to many fewer while covering an entire album. The reviews are generally of a high quality, especially when you consider the volume of reviews the site turns out. New stuff is published every day of the week. I think it’s very well edited, also. Ted Gioia sets the standard, but the other editors (including myself, I say in all modesty) do an excellent job, as well, especially when it comes to utilizing the Web’s unique qualities.”

Larry Appelbaum added that, “[Gioia] is an insightful historian and I think he’s also a good editor. The site is one that I looked at even before I became a contributor. I especially liked the interviews and the columns occasionally written by musicians. For example, Steve Coleman wrote an interesting analysis of key recordings by Charlie Parker. Perhaps because there was no advertising on the site, the content has not always been tied to promoting new releases, which is refreshing. Don’t know what the business model is now, but they built something from nothing and I hope it will grow.”

In fact, the business model for the site has long perplexed jazz media people because, as Appelbaum noted, the site has no visible advertising nor does it charge users to view its content. In addition, the jazz.com URL has always been one of the most prized and valuable addresses since the Internet came into general use in the ’90s. The jazz.com site was launched in December 2007, after over two years of preparation. Among its unique features is the review of single tracks, as opposed to the usual album focus. In addition, the site includes Lewis Porter’s Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians, with well over 1,000 entries.

A noted author himself, Gioia has written several books, including The Delta Blues, The History of Jazz, West Coast Jazz and, most recently, The Birth (and Death) of Cool. According to the bio on his Web site, Gioia has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Salon, American Scholar, Hudson Review and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. Gioia is also an accomplished jazz pianist; his recordings include The End of the Open Road (1988), Tango Cool (1990) and The City Is a Chinese Vase (1998). His brother, Dana Gioia, is the former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and himself a lifelong advocate for jazz.