Word Jazz is not exactly poetry, it’s not merely stream-of-consciousness improvisation, it’s not simply story telling...it’s all three and more. Invented by Ken Nordine in the ‘50’s, Word Jazz wraps language around the hipness and humor of jazz. Nordine, who has made his living as a “voice talent” (for example, those are his orotund tones that animate the famous Levi’s commercial about the stranger who came to town), carries forth from his home studio on Chicago’s North Side, concocting ever new batches of this strange brew. Unlike so many past attempts at combining poetry and jazz, where the language always seems to lay over the music like a wet blanket on top of hot coals, Ken’s verbal improvisations are driven by the same rhythmic impulse as the music, and so they swing just as hard. And because he is literally making up parts of it as he goes along (not even the most gifted jazz improvisers make it all up as they go; everybody has habits, frameworks, or chord changes), and due in no small part to the gorgeous instrument that is his voice, Ken Nordine’s Word Jazz has been great entertainment and, at times, deep inspiration to musicians and fans alike.