Martin Denny

Martin Denny album Denny was born in New York City and raised in Los Angeles. He studied classical piano and at a young age toured South America for four and a half years in the 1930s with the Don Dean Orchestra. This tour began Denny's fascination with Latin rhythms. Denny collected a large number of ethnic instruments from all over the world, which he used to spice up his stage performances. After serving in the United States Army Air Forces in World War II, Denny returned to Los Angeles, in 1945 where he studied piano and composition under Dr. Wesley La Violette and orchestration under Arthur Lange at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. He later studied at the University of Southern California.

In January 1954, Don the Beachcomber brought Denny to Honolulu, for a two-week engagement. He stayed to form his own combo in 1955, performing under contract at the Shell Bar in the Hawaiian Village on Oahu and soon signing to Liberty Records. The original combo consisted of Augie Colon on percussion and birdcalls, Arthur Lyman on vibes, John Kramer on string bass, and Denny on piano. Lyman soon left to form his own group and future Herb Alpert sideman and Baja Marimba Band founder Julius Wechter replaced him. Harvey Ragsdale later replaced Kramer.

Denny described the music his combo played as "window dressing, a background". He built a collection of strange and exotic instruments with the help of several airline friends. They would bring Denny back these instruments and he would build arrangements around them. His music was a combination of ethnic styles: South Pacific, the Orient and Latin rhythms.

During an engagement at the Shell Bar, Denny discovered what would become his trademark and the birth of "exotica". The bar had a very exotic setting: a little pool of water right outside the bandstand, rocks and palm trees growing around, very quiet and relaxed. As the group played at night, Denny became aware of bullfrogs croaking. The croaking blended with the music and when the band stopped, so did the frogs. He thought it was a coincidence at first, but when he tried the tune again later, the same thing happened. This time, his bandmates began doing all sorts of tropical bird calls as a gag. The band thought it nothing more than a joke. The next day, someone approached Denny and asked if he would do the arrangement with the birds and frogs. He agreed. At rehearsal, he had the band do "Quiet Village" with each doing a bird call spaced apart. Denny did the frog part on a grooved cylinder and the whole thing became incorporated into the arrangement of "Quiet Village". It sold more than one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.

The Exotica album was recorded in December 1956 and released in 1957. In 1958, Dick Clark hosted Denny on American Bandstand. "Quiet Village" reached #2 on Billboard's charts in 1959 with the Exotica album" reaching #1. He rode the charts of Cashbox and Variety also. Denny had as many as three or four albums on the charts simultaneously during his career. He had national hits with "A Taste of Honey", "The Enchanted Sea", and "Ebb Tide".

The album jacket was an influential factor guiding the fantasy of Denny's music. Denny's first dozen albums featured model Sandy Warner on the cover.

Some of Denny's albums include:
- 20 Golden Hawaiian Hits (1965, Liberty LRP 3415 (mono), LST 7415 (stereo))
- Afro-Desia (1959, Liberty LRP 3111 (mono), LST 7111 (stereo))
- Another Taste of Honey! (1963, Liberty LRP 3277 (mono), LST 7277 (stereo))
- The Enchanted Sea (1959, Liberty LRP 3141 (mono), LST 7141 (stereo))
- Exotic Love (1968, Liberty LST 7585)
- Exotic Moog (1969, Liberty LST 7621)
- Exotic Night (1968, Sunset SUS-5199)
- Exotic Percussion (1961, Liberty LRP 3168 (mono), LST 7168 (stereo))
- Exotic Sounds from the Silver Screen (1960, Liberty LRP 3158 (mono), LST 7158 (stereo))
- Exotic Sounds Visit Broadway (1960, Liberty LRP 3163 (mono), LST 7163 (stereo))
- Exotica (1957, Liberty LRP 3034; various re-releases, including stereo versions)
- Exotica, Vol. 2 (1957, Liberty LRP 3077; various re-releases, including stereo versions)
- Exotica, Vol. 3 (1959, Liberty LRP 3116 (mono), LST 7116 (stereo))
- Exotica Classica – For Those in Love (1967, Liberty LRP 3513 (mono), LST-7513 (stereo))
- Exotica Today (1966, Liberty LRP 3465 (mono), LST 7465 (stereo))
- Forbidden Island (1958, Liberty LRP 3081 (mono), LST 7001 (stereo))
- Golden Greats (1966, Liberty LRP 3467 (mono), LST 7467 (stereo))
- Hawaii (1967, Liberty LRP 3488 (mono), LST 7488 (stereo))
- Hawaii Tattoo (1964, Liberty LRP 3394 (mono), LST 7394 (stereo))
- Hawaii Goes A Go-Go! (1966, Liberty LRP 3445 (mono), LST 7445 (stereo))
- Hypnotique (1959, Liberty LRP 3102 (mono), LST 7102 (stereo))
- Latin Village (1964, Liberty LRP 3378 (mono), LST 7378 (stereo))
- Martin Denny! (1966, Liberty LRP 3438 (mono), LST 7438 (stereo))
- Martin Denny In Person (1962, Liberty LRP 3224 (mono), LST 7224 (stereo))
- Paradise Moods (1966, Sunset SUM-1102 (mono), SUS-5102 (stereo))
- Primitiva (1958, Liberty LRP 3087 (mono), LST 7023 (stereo))
- Quiet Village (1969, Liberty LRP 3122 (mono), LST 7122 (stereo); various re-releases)
- Romantica (1961, Liberty LRP 3207 (mono), LST 7207 (stereo))
- Sayonara (1967, Sunset SUM-1169 (mono), SUS-5169 (stereo))
- Spanish Village (1965, Liberty LRP 3409 (mono), LST 7409 (stereo))
- A Taste of Hits (1964, Liberty LRP 3328 (mono), LST 7328 (stereo))
- A Taste of Honey (1962, Liberty LRP 3237 (mono), LST 7237 (stereo))
- A Taste of India (1968, Liberty LRP 3550 (mono), LST 7550 (stereo))
- The Versatile Martin Denny (1963, Liberty LRP 3307 (mono), LST 7307 (stereo))

Martin Denny on Ebay