As anyone who has ever been dragged to a poetry slam can attest, the vast majority of modern spoken word poetry kinda sucks. It's not always the poetry's fault; much of the blame can be laid at the poet's feet, especially when said performer feels that depth of feeling always increases in direct proportion to volume. Ken Nordine
rarely seems to speak above a coolly modulated, richly burnished whisper, but he puts nearly all other spoken word artists to shame. A fixture on radio and television ads since the early 1950s, Nordine
is best known today for the four Word Jazz
albums he released on Dot Records later that decade, albums that true to their name matched Nordine
's mellow voice and unfettered imagination to hipster jazz settings. At 55 songs, six of them previously unreleased, You're Getting Better: The Word Jazz Dot Masters
gathers the entirety of those albums in remastered and exquisitely packaged form, and is essential for all fans both of spoken word releases and of beatnik-era cool.