Ted Gioia is a smart, serious, hugely accomplished critic, music historian, and pianist - who has just published an asinine article. Gioia has written some superb books about jazz and blues, including The History of Jazz, which I gobbled up when I read it in the late '90s. It is one of those doorstoppers that earns the reviewers' cliché "magisterial." It's sharp, sober, judicious, with a clear-sighted view of both forest and trees, and, for that matter, the sky above the treeline and the little creepy-crawlies scuttling in the underbrush; Gioia swoops from jazz's origins in Africa and Congo Square to fine-grain readings of Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives and Hot Sevens recordings to the social and historical context of bebop's rise, and on and on. I learned a lot from Gioia: not just facts, but ideas and insights, which I've no doubt bandied about in conversation in the years since, pretending they’re my own. I owe the man.
All of which gave Gioia's Daily Beast screed, "Musical Criticism Has Degenerated into Lifestyle Reporting," an especially bitter tang when I choked it down yesterday with my morning coffee.