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Ken Nordine

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]

Ken Nordine
Born (1920-04-13) April 13, 1920 (age 98)
Cherokee, Iowa, United States
Occupation Voice-over, radio host, musician
Years active 1948–present

Contents

Life and careerEdit

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. One of which, Honore de Balzac's short story “Une passion dans le désert”, was recorded for the 1955 album Passion in the Desert.[2] In 1955 he provided the voiceover on Billy Vaughn's version of Shifting Whispering Sands, which peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. He subsequently 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 Fred Katz Group featuring Chico Hamilton recording under an alias.[3][4]

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.[5] 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.

In 1990 Nordine was approached by Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead to be the anchor for their New Year's Eve radio broadcast from Oakland, California.[6] For the broadcast he recorded some improvisations with Garcia, drummer Mickey Hart and Egyptian musician Hamza El-Din.[6] This subsequently lead to an album Devout Jazz, released on the Grateful Dead's own label in 1991[6] and Upper Limbo in 1993[7] and appearances with the band such as their show at Rosemont, Illinois in March 1993.[8]

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

In 2007 he was a performer at the David Bowie curated High Line Festival in New York.[9]

Films and televisionEdit

Nordine appeared as the narrator, credited as "The Stranger", in Philip Kaufman's 1967 underground comedy Fearless Frank.[10][11] He was also Linda Blair's vocal coach for her role in The Exorcist.[5][12]

Nordine narrated several films for classroom use, made by Coronet Instructional Films in the 1950s. In at least one, Developing Your Character, he appears on screen.[13]

On television, Nordine did a series of readings on a show titled Faces in the Window on WNBQ, and Fred Astaire danced to Nordine's "My Baby" on a TV special.[14] Nordine's past radio series were Now Nordine and Word Jazz.[15]

Nordine worked with author Maurice Sendak on Sesame Street, providing the narration for the animated segments "Bumble Ardy"[16] and "Seven Monsters".[17]

Nordine provided the voiceover for NewTek's Video Toaster demo reels, such as the 1991 "Revolution".[18]

DiscographyEdit

  • 1955 – Passion in the Desert[2] (FM)
  • 1957 – Word Jazz[19] (Dot)
  • 1958 – Son of Word Jazz[19] (Dot)
  • 1958 – Love Words[20] (Dot) – also released as The Voice of Love (Hamilton)
  • 1959 – Next![20] (Dot)
  • 1960 – Word Jazz Vol. II[20] (Dot)
  • 1967 – Colors[19] (Philips)
  • 1967 – Ken Nordine Does Robert Shure's Twink[20] (Philips)
  • 1979 – Stare with Your Ears[20] (Snail)
  • 1984 – Triple Talk[20] (Snail)
  • 1986 – Grandson of Word Jazz[20] (Snail)
  • 1991 – Devout Catalyst[6] (Grateful Dead)
  • 1993 – Upper Limbo[7] (Grateful Dead)
  • 2001 – Transparent Mask[21] (Asphodel)
  • 2005 – The Eye Is Never Filled (DVD, Snail)

CompilationsEdit

  • 1959 – My Baby (Dot)
  • 1968 – The Classic Collection: The Best of Word Jazz Vol. 3 (Dot)
  • 1971 – How Are Things in Your Town?[20] (Blue Thumb)
  • 1990 – Best of Word Jazz (Rhino)
  • 2005 – You're Getting Better: The Word Jazz Dot Masters (Hip-O Select)

Guest appearancesEdit

  • 1955 – The Shifting Whispering Sands[20] – 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)
  • 1962 – Radio Rebus[22] (US Army Recruiting Service)
  • 1968 – H. P. Lovecraft II[20]H. P. Lovecraft (Philips) – "Nothing's Boy"
  • 1997 – Fun for the Whole Family [23]– Lord Runningclam (Bottom Heavy) / 1998 (Moonshine Music) – "Faces in the Night" and "Flibberty Jib"
  • 1998 – Sound MuseumTowa Tei (Elektra) – "The Sound Museum"
  • 2000 – A Dub Plate of Food Vol. 2[24]DJ Food (Ninja Tune)
  • 2000 – Kaleidoscope[19] – DJ Food (Ninja Tune) – "The Ageing Young Rebel"
  • 2000 – Xen Cuts[24] – Various Artists – DJ Food (Ninja Tune) – "The Ageing Young Rebel"
  • 2002 – Cago[19]Dead Man Ray (Virgin) – "Blue Volkswagen 10:10 AM"
  • 2007 – Excellent Italian Greyhound[19]Shellac (Touch & Go) – "Genuine Lulabelle" [uncredited]
  • 2012 – The Search Engine DJ Food – "All Covered In Darkness"(sampled vocal)[25]

Compilation tracksEdit

  • 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[20] (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 recordingsEdit

  • 1951 – Incredible But True Radio (Columbia)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Love, Bret. Review of A Transparent Mask at AllMusic
  2. ^ a b "Album Chart of 1955". Thejukebox Rebel. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  3. ^ Unterberger, Richie. Biography of Ken Nordine at AllMusic
  4. ^ Weber M., The CODA Interview with Fred Katz, CODA The Jazz Magazine, Issue 176 (1980)
  5. ^ a b "Ken Nordine the Word Jazz Impresario". Chicago Jazz Magazine. 2011-05-13. Archived from the original on 2015-06-13. Retrieved 2014-08-28.
  6. ^ a b c d "The New Word Jazz of Ken Nordine". LA Times. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Grateful Dead Hour No. 272". Dead.net. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Dead of the Day:March 11 1993". gratefuldeadoftheday.com. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  9. ^ "High Line Festival - David Bowie". New York Times. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  10. ^ Fearless Frank (1967) on IMDb
  11. ^ Borrelli, Christopher (2012-10-19). "'Word Jazz' pioneer Ken Nordine gets closer look". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-08-28.
  12. ^ "Ken Nordine". Last.fm. Retrieved 2014-08-28.
  13. ^ Smith, Ken (1999). Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films 1945-1970. New York: Blast Books. p. 137. ISBN 0-922233-21-7.
  14. ^ "Ken Nordine's "My Baby"". tuxjunction.net. Archived from the original (MP3) on April 23, 2015. Retrieved 2014-08-28.
  15. ^ "Will Ken Nordine Ever Grow Up?". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  16. ^ "RIP Maurice Sendak". DJFood.com. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Sesame Street was brought to you today". Cartoonresearch.com. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  18. ^ "Revolution" NEWTEK Video Toaster Demo Reel 1991 on YouTube
  19. ^ a b c d e f "From the Crates:Ken Nordine". Treblezine.com. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Jazz Profiles:Ken Nordine". Jazzprofiles.blogspot.com. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  21. ^ "Ken Nordine:Word Jazz: A Transparent Mask". Jazz Times. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  22. ^ "Ken Nordine - Radio Rebus". Discogs.com. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  23. ^ "babysue:LMNOP reviews April 1998". babysue.com. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  24. ^ a b "Ken Nordine". Allmusic. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  25. ^ "One Man's Weird Is Another Man's World". Ninja Tune. Retrieved 6 October 2018.

BibliographyEdit

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

External linksEdit