Teo Ciavarella was born in the Puglian province of Foggia in San Marco in Lamis. He lives in Bolognam where he works putting on concerts, teachingm and promoting artistic events. A graduate of the faculty of Fine Art, Dance, Music, and Theatre (DAMS) at the University of Bologna with a thesis analyzing the stylistics of jazz in the 1950s and 60s, he has hosted seminars on jazz improvisation at various public and private institutions. In 2007 he completed his thesis on the American jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, obtaining his master's degree specializing in jazz piano at the Buzzolla Conservatorio in Adria. He has been teaching jazz piano at the Convervatorio Frescobaldi in Ferrara since 2006, and since 2007, he has been teching jazz piano at the Conservatorio G.B.Martini in Bologna.
Ciavarella has played concerts with jazz musicians such as Gerry Mulligan, Eddie Gomez, David Sanchez, Matt Marvuglio, Marco Pignataro, Jeff Berlin, Luis Bonilla, Rick Peckham, Lou Fisher, Gary Keller, Jim Snidero, Jimmy Rivera, Julius Pastorius, Fidel Morales, Efrain Martinez, Paolo Fresu, Hiram Bullock, Greg Yasinisky, Antonello Salis, Cheryl Porter, Roy Paci, Fabrizio Bosso, Dhafer Youssef, Daniele Scannapieco, Stefano Di Battista, Henghel Gualdi, Gianluca Petrella, Mauro Ottolini, Piergiorgio Farina, Paolo Damiani, the Doctor Dixie Jazz Band, singer Ruggero Raimondi, flautists Giorgio Zagnoni and Andrea Griminelli, poets Davide Rondoni, and Roberto Mussapi and actors Enzo Moscato and Piera Degli Esposti. He has collaborated on recordings and tours with Italian artists such as Lucio Dalla, Renzo Arbore, Pupi Avati, Claudio Baglioni, Paolo Conte, Vinicio Capossela, David Riondino, Francesco Baccini, Alfio Antico, and Roberto Freak Antoni. He has toured with theater companies and composed music for theater productions by actors Paolo Rossi, Antonio Albanese, and Enrico Bertolino. He has taken part in television and radio programs on Rai and Mediaset channels.
He has performed in various international jazz arts festivals such as Umbria Jazz (fourth edition), Urbino Jazz, Le Grande Parade Du Jazz de Nice, Festival Jazz de Samois-Fontainebleau, Comacchio Jazz, Festival de Rouen, Festival Jazz del Monferrato, Festival Jazz di S .Marino, Fano Jazz, Bologna Jazz Festival, Maratona Jazz Modena, Emilia Romagna Festival, Koblenz Festival, Marajazz, Suoni in Cava, Jazz in Lamis, Orsara Jazz, and CMPR Jazz Festival in Puerto Rico.
Ciavarella has recorded more than 50 CDs, three as band leader: Halfway, a trio recording which took place at Teatro Valli in Reggio Emilia; Prendiamociunapausa with Paolo Fresu, Cheryl Porter, and Henghel Gualdi; and Teo Ciavarella and Friends, recorded live in the Aula Absidale S. Lucia at Bologna University and in the Beethoven Haus in Koblenz, during a tour in Germany with the Romanian clarinetist Romeo Tudorache with the Opera String Quartet from Berlin.
In 2001 Ciavarella was awarded an honorary recognition from the DAMS faculty at Bologna University as part of the 30th birthday celebration of the DAMS degree in Bologna. At an award hosted by ANT Italia he received the Live Jazz for Life award for 2003.
Alongside his busy concert schedule, Ciavarella is involved in musical and artistic promotion and management. Both in 2001 and 2002 he directed and presented the Jazz in Baraccano festival, and in 2002 Jazz and University at the Cantina Bentivoglio jazz club in Bologna. He curated the Kelly Joyce Live and Gino Paoli in Jazz shows, both arranging and hosting the concerts with both artists. In 2001 he established the Dams Jazz Orchestra together with Paolo Granata which is now the official jazz orchestra of Bologna University.