For Those Who Have Ears

For some time now, Ted Gioia has been one of our leading jazz and music critics.  He, along with Gary Giddins, Bob Porter, Marc Myers, Bill Milkowski, Will Friedwald, and several even younger critics and historians like Ricky Riccardi, has gradually taken over the important and tricky work of chronicling America’s music, a mission first undertaken decades ago by such luminaries as Leonard Feather, Ira Gitler, Whitney Balliett, Dan Morgenstern, the Frenchmen Charles Delaunay, Hugues Panassié, and André Hodeir, and other inspired and highly informed insiders who wrote in depth of the world of jazz through the middle years of the 20th century and beyond.  A number of these were musicians themselves, and Feather, Hodeir, Panassié, and several others also functioned as producers and promoters, organizing concerts, seeing to the recording of musicians they knew to be important and then publicizing these efforts—exuberant and devoted conflicts of interest that served the world of jazz handsomely.

Gioia and his older brother, Dana, to whom this new book is dedicated, are both talented men, and both are class acts.  Dana is a prizewinning poet, translator, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 to 2009, and currently California State Poet Laureate.  Ted has written elegantly about the West Coast Jazz scene, the Cool Jazz scene, the phenomenon of Delta Blues, and authored...

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