A national treasure. He has been doing Word Jazz in various forms since the early 60's, but even those who haven't heard it have heard his voice thousands of times (at least in North America). He's the voice behind numerous TV and radio ads over the decades - for example, some great Levi's jeans campaigns in the 70's that combined state-of-the-art animation with his Word Jazz (in English and Spanish, IIRC).

Ken Nordine's Word Jazz began in the 1950s (not the 1960s) in Chicago. His first records, Word Jazz and Son of Word Jazz, were released on Dot Records.

Associated with beat poetry, Nordine teamed up with Jerry Garcia, David Grisman and Tom Waits to produce an album in the early 1990s called Devout Catalyst.

Ken continues to broadcast a weekly radio show on WBEZ, the Chicago NPR affiliate. He also used to do the voice overs for Amoco Oil commercials.

He lives in Chicago with his wife.

"I was going to be a concert violinist until I learned that working with my voice was a much easier way to do it. I think the thing that happened to me is that I like writing, and I like writing for speaking. It's a different kind of writing. A good line is like a stone that's been smoothed by water running over it. In other words, if it's not on the beat, if it's not in the pocket, you'll know right away. It's like a line in a good jazz solo."

incomplete discography

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)
1966 - 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)

Guest Appearances

1955 - The Shifting Whispering Sands - Billy Vaughn (Dot)
1957 - Concert in the Sky - Teddy Phillips and His Orchestra (Decca)
1958 - Sounds In Space (RCA Victor)
1961 - Radio Rebus (US Army)
1968 - H.P. Lovecraft II - H.P. Lovercraft (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"

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