Ken Nordine

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Ken Nordine
Born (1920-04-13) April 13, 1920 (age 94)
Cherokee, Iowa, United States
Occupation Voice-over, radio host, musician
Years active 1948-present

Ken Nordine (born April 13, 1920) is an American voice-over and recording artist, best known for his series of Word Jazz albums. His deep, resonant voice has also been featured in many commercial advertisements and movie trailers. One critic wrote that "you may not know Ken Nordine by name or face, but you'll almost certainly recognize his voice."[1]

Life and career[edit]

The son of Theresia and Nore S. Nordine, a contractor, Ken Nordine was born in Cherokee, Iowa. The family later moved to Chicago, where he attended Lane Technical College Prep High School and the University of Chicago. He has three sons with his wife Beryl whom he married in 1945. During the 1940s, he was heard on The World's Great Novels and other radio programs broadcast from Chicago. He attracted wider attention when he recorded the aural vignettes on Word Jazz (Dot, 1957). Love Words, Son of Word Jazz (Dot, 1958) and his other albums in this vein feature Nordine's narration over cool jazz by the Chico Hamilton jazz group, recording under the alias of Fred Katz, who was then the cellist with Hamilton's quintet.[2]

Nordine began performing and recording such albums at the peak of the beat era and was associated with the poetry-and-jazz movement. However, it has been observed that some of Nordine's writings "are more akin to Franz Kafka or Edgar Allan Poe" than to the beats.[3] Many of his word jazz tracks feature critiques of societal norms. Some are lightweight and humorous, while others reveal dark, paranoid undercurrents and bizarre, dream-like scenarios. Nordine's DVD, The Eye Is Never Filled, (2005) provides a flow of abstract visuals to accompany the audio tracks.

Nordine currently hosts a weekly radio program and maintains residences in Chicago, Illinois, and Spread Eagle, Wisconsin.

Films and television[edit]

Nordine appeared as the narrator, credited as "The Stranger," in Philip Kaufman's 1967 underground comedy Fearless Frank.[4][5] He was also Linda Blair's vocal coach for her role in The Exorcist.[3][6]

On television, Nordine did a series of readings on a show titled Faces in the Window, and Fred Astaire danced to Nordine's "My Baby" on a TV special.[7] Nordine's past radio series were Now Nordine and Word Jazz.

Partial discography[edit]

  • 1955 - Passion in the Desert (FM) / 1963 (FM)
  • 1957 - Word Jazz (Dot) / 1967 (Dot) / 1983 (MCA)
  • 1958 - Son of Word Jazz (Dot)
  • 1958 - Love Words (Dot) / 1959 (Dot)
  • 1959 - My Baby (Dot)
  • 1959 - Next! (Dot)
  • 1959 - The Voice of Love (Hamilton)
  • 1960 - Word Jazz Vol. 2 (Dot)
  • 1967 - Colors (Philips) / 1995 (Asphodel)
  • 1967 - Ken Nordine Does Robert Shure's Twink (Philips)
  • 1968 - The Classic Collection: The Best of Word Jazz Vol. 3 (Dot)
  • 1971 - How Are Things in Your Town? (Blue Thumb)
  • 1972 - Ken Nordine (Blue Thumb)
  • 1979 - Stare with Your Ears (Snail) / 1988 (Snail)
  • 1984 - Triple Talk (Snail)
  • 1986 - Grandson of Word Jazz (Snail)
  • 1990 - Best of Word Jazz (Rhino)
  • 1991 - Devout Catalyst (Grateful Dead)
  • 1993 - Upper Limbo (Grateful Dead)
  • 2001 - Transparent Mask (Asphodel)
  • 2002 - Wink (re-release of Ken Nordine Does Robert Shure's Twink) (Asphodel)
  • 2005 - You're Getting Better: The Word Jazz Dot Masters (Hip-O Select)
  • 2005 - The Eye Is Never Filled (DVD, Snail)

Guest appearances[edit]

  • 1955 - The Shifting Whispering Sands - Billy Vaughn (Dot)(credited as Ken Nordene on this release)
  • 1957 - Concert in the Sky - Teddy Phillips and His Orchestra (Decca)
  • 1958 - Sounds in Space (RCA Victor SP-33-13)
  • 1961 - Radio Rebus (US Army)
  • 1968 - H. P. Lovecraft II - H. P. Lovecraft (Philips) - "Nothing's Boy"
  • 1997 - Fun for the Whole Family - Lord Runningclam (Bottom Heavy) / 1998 (Moonshine Music) - "Faces in the Night" and "Flibberty Jib"
  • 1998 - Sound Museum - Towa Tei (Elektra) - "The Sound Museum"
  • 2000 - A Dub Plate of Food Vol. 2 - DJ Food (Ninja Tune)
  • 2000 - Kaleidoscope - DJ Food (Ninja Tune) - "The Ageing Young Rebel"
  • 2000 - Xen Cuts - Various Artists - DJ Food (Ninja Tune) - "The Ageing Young Rebel"
  • 2001 - Sound Sculptors - Yonderboi & DJ Palotai (intro)
  • 2002 - Cago - Dead Man Ray (Virgin) - "Blue Volkswagen 10:10 AM"
  • 2007 - Excellent Italian Greyhound - Shellac (Touch & Go) - "Genuine Lulabelle" [uncredited]
  • 2012 - The Search Engine DJ Food - "All Covered In Darkness"

Compilation tracks[edit]

  • 1959 - Deejay's Choice: 25 Top Album Performances on Dot (Dot) - "My Baby"
  • 1959 - Excerpts from the Original Soundtrack of Another Evening with Fred Astaire (Chrysler) - "My Baby"
  • 1965 - A Child's Introduction to the Classics (Childcraft/Wing) - "Barber of Seville"
  • 1973 - Original Early Top 40 Hits (Paramount) - "The Shifting Whispering Sands, Part 1" with Billy Vaughn
  • 1988 - Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films (A&M)
  • 1991 - Train of Thought: Stories, Music & Eclectic Audio Entertainment, Vol.1 (Com Audio) - "Mr. City"
  • 1992 - The Beat Generation box set (Rhino) - "Reaching Into In" and "Hunger Is From"
  • 1993 - A Chance Operation: The John Cage Tribute (Koch) - "A Cage Went in Search of a Bird"
  • 1994 - Incredibly Strange Music, Vol. 2 (Asphodel) - "Flesh," "Green" and "Yellow"
  • 1995 - All Day Thumbsucker Revisited (Blue Thumb/GRP) - "Roger"
  • 1995 - Chop Suey Rock (Hot & Sour) - "Hot" as Ken Nordine and His Kinsmen
  • 1995 - Monster Sounds and Boppin' Tracks (Marginal) - "Strollin' Spooks"
  • 1997 - Closed on Account of Rabies: Poems and Tales of Edgar Allan Poe (Mercury) - "The Conqueror Worm"
  • 1999 - The Annoying Music Show's The Annoying Music Show CD
  • 2000 - The Annoying Music Show's The Annoying Music Show Holiday CD - "Ken Nordine Says Jim Nayder's Name"
  • 2002 - The Best of the Beat Generation (Rhino) - "My Baby"

Related recordings[edit]

  • 1951 - Incredible But True Radio (Columbia)

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Love, Bret. Review of A Transparent Mask at AllMusic
  2. ^ Unterberger, Richie. Biography of Ken Nordine at AllMusic
  3. ^ a b "Ken Nordine the Word Jazz Impresario". Chicago Jazz Magazine. May 13, 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "Fearless Frank (1967)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2013-08-09. 
  5. ^ Christopher Borrelli (2012-10-19). "'Word Jazz' pioneer Ken Nordine gets closer look - Chicago Tribune". Articles.chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2013-08-09. 
  6. ^ "Ken Nordine". last.fm. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Ken Nordine's "My Baby"". Tuxjunction. Retrieved 2013-08-09. 

Bibliography

  • Marciniak, Vwadek P., Politics, Humor and the Counterculture: Laughter in the Age of Decay (New York etc., 2008).

External links[edit]