Monday, February 05, 2007

Whitney Bailliett R.I.P.

We are obliged to mark the passing of Whitney Bailliett, erstwhile New Yorker jazz critic, who, like the best of that magazine's critics (here we are thinking of, say, Lewis Mumford and Pauline Kael; there are others), called it as he saw it, and saw it very well. We weren't around in the late fifties, when Bailliett first appeared at the magazine, but we are willing to wager that not every writer for a major newspaper or magazine was as prepared to be thrilled and amazed by the new sounds of jazz as it evolved into, and beyond, bebop in what must have seemed to have been the blink of an eye. Even now, almost fifty years later, you go back and read one of his columns and feel compelled to rush out and listen to whatever it is he was writing about that week. And you just know that, if he liked it, it will still sound good.