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Ken Nordine

Most Americans are probably familiar with Ken Nordine, even if they don't know it. His rich, deep baritone graces numerous television and radio ads. His most creative work, however, is reserved for his "word jazz," which marries liquid, free-association ruminations with jazzy instrumental backing. Active in radio since the 1950s, he's recorded numerous albums and syndicated broadcasts, and has even collaborated with the Grateful Dead.

Nordine got his start as a radio and television personality in Chicago, were he would sometimes do his raps over jazz records on his poetry show. His first Word Jazz album, from 1957, utilized the Chico Hamilton band (working under the alias of the Fred Katz group). This led to a series of Word Jazz recordings, which -- like the beat poetry from the same era -- looked beyond the conformity of the 1950s to more imaginative and colorful worlds, ones that had room for fantasy and irrationality, and not just mundane reality. He's recorded sporadically ever since, although he does studio recordings as a sideline to his work in radio and commercials. Nordine's soundscapes are best experienced not on his relatively few commercial recordings, but on his syndicated radio shows, 375 of which are available on cassette from Snail Records, Box 285-8C2, Florence, WI 54121. ~ Richie Unterberger
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Best Of Word Jazz, Vol.1

1. My Baby

2. Original Sin

3. What Time Is It

4. Confessions Of 349-18-5171

5. Hunger Is From

6. The Vidiot

7. Reaching Into In

8. Adult Kindergarten

9. The Sound Museum

10. Bury-It-Yourself Time Capsules

11. Anytime, Anytime

12. A Whistler

13. Flibberty Jib

14. Faces In The Jazzamatazz

15. I Used To Think My Right Hand Was Uglier Than My Left

16. Looks Like It's Going To Rain

17. Down The Drain

18. You're Getting Better

Comments

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Down the Drain...firs t time I've heard Ken Nordine, entertaining .
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I Agree more Ken Nordine.
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More Ken Nordine!!!
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In the 60's Ken Nordines alblum Colors was my introduction to his work. His music takes me back to growing up in Chicago; It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
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The one album? That's it????
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Ken Nordine's syndicated radio program "Word Jazz" is can't miss radio. I can't recommend it more highly. Joe Frank does an excellent program as well, that happens to air before Nordine's on public radio here in Chicago (WBEZ-91.5 FM).
anyone who enjoys this type of spoken word music should give a listen. Mort Sahl, Tom Lehrer, Bob Newhart, Woody Allen are some others who made excellent spoken word and political satire in the 1960's. Thanks again Pandora for making some of these sounds availabl
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rob5512
Only fair to add, now that I've spouted off, that some spoken word and jazzy word-associa t i o n stuff IS turning up in the station I made with Ken Nordine as sole seed -- Continued thanks, Pandora.
Report as inappropriate
rob5512
I understand the connections with "Similar Artists" noted here (F.Waller, M.Allison, C.Baker, L.Armstrong & F.Astaire as of 10/09), but it leaves quite a bit to be desired in terms of word-associa t i o n & soundscapes, no?.. Looks like neither Joe Frank or Jean Shepherd are available on Pandora at this point, but can't you hip us to some spoken-word artists or contemporary soundscape people who've more in common with Mr. Nordine?...

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