Martin Denny

Artist Playlists

About Martin Denny

In the mid-'50s, composer and pianist Martin Denny combined lounge jazz, Hawaiian music, Latin rhythms, bird calls, and then-exotic ethnic instruments like, koto, gamelans, and Burmese temple bells into the sound known as exotica. Although the craze was short-lived, Denny recorded several popular instrumental albums and hit number four in 1959 with "Quiet Village," one of the most unusual top ten singles of all time. Born on the mainland, Denny drew upon his worldwide experiences as a touring musician to conjure a sound that evoked the tranquility and mystery of the South Pacific. Puerto Rican bongo player Augie Colón (who also contributed the bird calls) and vibesman Arthur Lyman (who went on to a successful solo exotica career of his own) were also key elements of Denny's melange. Virtually forgotten for decades, Denny (and exotica itself) experienced a resurgence of popularity beginning in the mid-'80s, and has been cited as an inspiration by a surprising array of musicians. ~ Richie Unterberger

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