Famed New Yorker jazz critic Whitney Balliett has died at the age of 80. This was a jazz critic whose words read like literary prose. He was less technical than most, something this reader appreciated. He was poetic, unabashed, his love for the form came through in both his boosts and his barbs. I've read his columns throughout the years, but did not become familiar with his book-length essay collections until this past year, when writing my Ella Fitzgerald book and am now even happier that I quoted him a few times in it. He made a difference in how this classically trained singer understands jazz.