Thursday, January 29, 2009

Word Jazz - Ken Nordine

There are are those who listen ... and then there are those who listen and SPEAK. Ken Nordine is one of the latter. I've been following his works for decades. His 1950's LP "Word Jazz" and all its derivative works have fascinated me as long as I've known and heard of them. Being a person who spends much time with words, those who play with them have my immediate attention.

Ken has a new Web page here. If you are lucky, you can find his material to purchase or podcasts to download. If you try them out, see if you can find a time when you aren't busy thinking about other things. They DEMAND your full attention...and then some. He layers his words with multiple recording tracks and adds sounds and music till you can just barely contain the entirety of all he says.

I had never exposed my mother to his work. One day we were driving to San Angelo from Austin. To escape her incessant talking during the drive, I had retreated to a small tape recorder and earphones. I borrowed some tapes of the Word Jazz program from a ham buddy to play on the trip. I started laughing so uproariously, she asked me what in the world I was listening to. I placed the earphones on her "helmet hair" fresh from the hairdresser and over her ears. She listened for the next 30 minutes. Several times I had to urge her to speed back up to normal highway speeds. The program so enthralled her that I'm sure she forgot almost all around her. After it was over, she expressed intense liking for his work.

In addition to his own page, there are examples of his work on this page: search for his name. Some are from his album "Colors": they are "Yellow;" "Cerise." This one, "Seratonin," concerns those scary little pamphlets found in scary drugs you are prescribed. And here is a transcription of a portion of an interview with him on his inspiration for the word work. Here is a Chicago Tribune piece on him, his work and his accompanist, Howard Levy.

I have friends who really dislike his work. And I have friends who feel as I do. Try him out and see what you think...and comment.

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