Balliett, Short, and the pleasures of good conversation

In December 1970, jazz critic Whitney Balliett published his profile of Bobby Short, who died two weeks ago. The long piece is mostly made up of Short talking; he was a terrific talker, which is crucial for a man who performed primarily in small, intimate spaces. But it’s Balliett’s quiet interjections, like the brushstrokes of ancient Japanese painters, that energize Short, that make his aura sing as well as his throat ever did. The essay is a duet between two eloquent people—one a gregarious dynamo who turned heads wherever he walked; the other an attentive listener who sat in the shadows and absorbed everything. Somehow, they complement each other so well that Balliett’s and Short’s voices intermingle. I wish I could write, or talk, like this. Please read it.

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Atlanta, GA. He is the co-author (with Daniel Couch) of Bob Mould's Workbook (Bloomsbury, 2017). His work has been published in The Quarterly Conversation,, Bookslut (RIP), The Comics Journal, The Baseball Chronicle, and other periodicals. Twitter: @walter_biggins.
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