Whitney Lyon Balliett (17 April 1926 – 1 February 2007) was a jazz critic and book reviewer for the New Yorker and was with the journal from 1954 until 2001.
Born in Manhattan and raised in Glen Cove, Long Island, Balliett attended Phillips Exeter Academy, where he learned to played drums in a band he summed up as “baggy Dixieland”; he played summer gigs at a Center Island yacht club.
He was drafted into the Army in 1946, interrupting his freshman year at Cornell University, to which returned to finish his degree in 1951 and where he was a member of The Delta Phi Fraternity. He then went on to a job at The New Yorker, where he was hired by Katherine White, one of the magazine’s fiction editors.
Acclaimed for his literary writing style Whitney Balliett died on 1 February 2007, aged 80, from cancer, survived by his second wife Nancy Balliett and five children:James Fargo Balliett, Blue Balliett, Will Balliett, Julie Lyon Rose, and Whitney Balliett, Jr.
- Such Sweet Thunder: 49 Pieces on Jazz, 1966, Bobbs-Merrill Company
- Super-drummer: A Profile of Buddy Rich
- John Gordon's Folk Art: A Great Flowering of Free Spirits
- Alec Wilder and His Friends, 1974, Houghton Mifflin Company
- Improvising: Sixteen Jazz Musicians and Their Art, 1977, Oxford University Press
- Night Creature: A Journal of Jazz 1975-1980, 1981, Oxford University Press
- American Musicians: Fifty-Six Portraits in Jazz, 1986, Oxford University Press
- American Singers: Twenty-seven Portraits in Song, 1988, Oxford University Press
- Collected Works: A Journal of Jazz 1954-2000, 2000, St. Martin's Press