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Ken Nordine’s “Colors”

Author John Cech
Air Date 9/15/2006

Ken Nordine’s “Colors” Transcript

Brief Sound Clip:

You’re hearing Ken Nordine, reading a section of his poem, “Orange,” from a CD called Colors. Nordine has one of the most recognizeable voices in radio. He has long been a mainstay of Chicago radio audiences, where many of us, myself included, grew up listening to his transcendent late-night tone poems and hip Word Jazz riffs. Colors began its history as a group of radio commercials that he was asked to write for the Fuller Paint Company. He assembled a group of jazz musicians, friends of his, and they improvised to his poetry, with him giving instructions like: “…something very light that would be like clouds, and that’s got a very sky-blue kind of blues to the thing” — to get the sound he wanted for “Azure:”

Brief Sound Clip:

The recordings for Nordine’s 44 colors were made in 1967, and 34 of these sound paintings were put on this 1995 CD, and a few years ago, Harcourt published the words for 15 of the poems as a children’s book with the funny abstract pictures of the artist, Henrik Drescher. Drescher’s style is vividly child-like, loose, a little edgy, and a perfect complement for Nordine’s allusive, ellliptical poems that are infused with a genundy energy. Here’s a little from “Turquoise.”

Brief Sound Clip:


Posted in Music