recess radio program

09/15/06
Ken Nordine's Colors
    by John Cech

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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:"

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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."

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Copyright 2006 John Cech

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Monday, 28-Aug-2006 14:58:16 EDT


"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."