New York Voices
Profiles of the artists, music makers, and movers and shakers who created New York City’s vibrant cultural landscape
Renowned jazz critic Whitney Balliett (1926–2007) loved New York. A longtime columnist and critic for the New Yorker, he wrote about the city's artistic side and night life for fifty years. In many ways his writings have helped define the culture of a metropolis where artistic activity is a major attraction.
In New York Voices, Balliett moves beyond the portraits of jazz artists for which he is most famous to write biographies of fourteen gifted people from abroad and around the United States. They settled in New York, celebrated it, and rose to the top of their professions. Each of these portraits focuses on an individual who makes a living in the arts and whose work contains a strong improvisational element. As with the best jazz musicians, many of these individuals work with live audiences and without a safety net.
Those portrayed include nightclub owners Barney Josephson, Bradley Cunningham, and Max Gordon; comedians Jackie Mason and Bob and Ray; painter Jon Schueler; entrepreneur, writer, and director Julius Monk; and Lola Szladits, who oversees the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library.
"Had Whitney Balliett, the longtime jazz critic of the New Yorker, ever chosen to try fiction, he might have done well. His profiles, so often able to make a reader hear music, have no parallel in contemporary journalism. "- Richard M. Sudhalter, The New York Times