I just heard that one of the most elegant, insightful jazz writers — and certainly one of my biggest influences — died today.
Whitney Balliett was the jazz columnist for The New Yorker from 1957 to 2001, and his crisp prose helped set the tone for the magazine during that period. It was Balliett who shone a light on Sonny Rollins' late-night trips to the Williamsburg Bridge, and helped maintain a level-headed pragmaticism about jazz while it was going through major upheaval in the '60s and '70s.
As a writer, he was unequalled by anyone with the possible exception of Gary Giddins. Truly someone who set the kind of standard you wanted to try and approach.
If you have a copy of The New Yorker's amazing complete CD-ROM library, check out some of his work; I know that's what I'll be doing over the next few days.