Ken Nordine

word-jazz

Ken Nordine (b. 1920) is an American voiceover 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.’ 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’ (1957), which features 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.

Nordine began performing and recording such albums at the peak of the beat era and was associated with the poetry-and-jazz movement. However, some of Nordine’s ‘writings are more akin to Franz Kafka or Edgar Allan Poe’ than to the beats. 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 was Linda Blair’s vocal coach for her role in ‘The Exorcist.’

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