American jazz writer Ted Gioia, whose History Of Jazz is about to be published in its third edition, has launched an online newsletter which will attempt to address the shortfall in “honest, reliable guidance in matters of music and culture”.
Titled Culture Notes of an Honest Broker, the newsletter will, says Gioia, aim to be “a trustworthy guide to music, books, and culture – with a mix of longform essays, reviews, commentary, links, observations, and amusements.”
He observes that jazz and arts coverage in major newspapers has become an endangered species, noting “There once were full-time jazz writers at every major newspaper in the United States, but I doubt there’s even one left now.” UK journalists may recall the time in the early 80s when Melody Maker still had Max Jones and Brian Case wandering around IPC’s South Bank office.
Gioia, who has authored 11 books and has degrees from Stanford and Oxford, says “I’m committed to offering smart, expansive coverage that will go beyond what readers can find elsewhere. My main focus will be music, but all facets of cultural activity and innovation will be part of my purview.”
The newsletter is launched on the Substack platform at tedgioia.substack.com/about.
Gioia has provocative form. The present writer reviewed Gioia’s The Imperfect Art in Jazz Journal October 1989, noting his observation – some would say more pertinent than ever in today’s jazz world, oversupplied with jazz graduates – that “the jazz world displays … an abundance of mediocrity, indifference, empty posturing, and empty music”. In the same book he called for critics to admit “that much – if not most – jazz is boring.”
Andy Hamilton reviewed Gioia’s Music – A Subversive History in Jazz Journal in July 2020, describing it as “both a history of subversion in music, and a subversive historical work – its subversive aim seems to be criticism of the academy and high art.”