Balliett, Whitney 1926-2007 (Whitney Lyon Balliett)

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Balliett, Whitney 1926-2007 (Whitney Lyon Balliett)


See index for CA sketch: Born April 17, 1926, in New York, NY; died of liver cancer, February 1, 2007, in New York, NY. Journalist and author. Balliett was a longtime jazz columnist for the New Yorker and also cocreator of the seminal 1950s jazz television show, The Sound of Jazz. An amateur drummer himself, he first became fascinated by jazz while attending Phillips Exeter Academy and taking trips to clubs on New York's West Side. Earning a B.A. from Cornell University in 1951, he became a proofreader for the New Yorker while simultaneously writing jazz articles for the Saturday Review. The New Yorker gave him his own column in 1957, and he continued to write it until 1998. Even after leaving his column, he contributed to the New Yorker through 2001. Taking a nontechnical approach to music criticism, Balliett tried to convey an accurate impression of jazz through his lyrical style of reporting. Also in 1957, he created The Sound of Jazz with fellow jazz critic Nat Hentoff. The program aired on CBS-TV and was considered groundbreaking in an era of conservative television. Balliett authored numerous profiles and biographies of jazz musicians, as well as collections of criticism and other titles about music. Among his works are Super-Drummer: A Profile of Buddy Rich (1968), American Singers (1979), American Musicians: Fifty-six Portraits in Jazz (1986), Collected Works: A Journal of Jazz, 1954-2000 (2000), and New York Voices: Fourteen Portraits (2006).



New York Times, February 3, 2007, p. A13; February 6, 2007, p. A2.

Times (London, England), February 5, 2007, p. 48.

Washington Post, February 2, 2007, p. B7.