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Martin Denny


The Exotic Sounds of Martin Denny




Martin Denny CD coverThere are many others who are way more qualified to write a review of Martin Denny than I am. I am just someone who likes listening to his music, not someone who knows a whole lot about his history.

Martin Denny 'the uncrowned king of Exotica' recorded 37 amazing records between the last 1950s and early 1960s. His most famous work is 'Quiet Village.' The title song of that record is probably his most widely known piece, and is the song that starts this comp off.

His debut record in 1957 was 'Exotica.' That record's title came to be the name of a whole genre, including the music heard in tiki rooms all over the world. That 1957 record had a band that included Arthur Lyman on vibes, before he left to achieve cult status as an Exotica artist himself.

I love his stuff because it encompasses a feeling more than a sound. It mixes Hawaiian sounds with Latin rhythms and an Oriental feel. His music makes you feel elevated and good, and has lots of bird calls (a big plus for me!).

Band member Augie Colon became the principle creator of animal sounds for Martin Denny after an open air concert at the Shell Bar of Henry Kaiser's Hawaiian Village nightclub, where bullfrogs could be heard over the music and Augie started doing bird calls.

Exotic instruments came into the Martin Denny sound early on as well. He used to ask friends to "bring back whatever they could find from their travels: a ukulele from Portugal, a 200-pound talking drum from New Guinea, gongs from Burma."

The cover of this disc makes it look like a reissue of a record, causing many people to pass it up ("I think I already own that one"). the fact is, this is a compilation of his work specially put together for Rev-Ola in 2003.

My particular favorites are Quiet Village, When First I Love, Baia, Simba, Aku Aku, and The Enchanted Sea.

Special mention also goes to March of the Siamese Children, which many of you will recognize from The King & I.

The plain fact is that all the songs on the disc could become your favorites at one time or another, and all are very pleasing to the ear.

Just like the 1996 Scott Walker compilation 'It's Raining Today: The Scott Walker Story (1967-70)' on Razor and Tie records brought together his career even better than buying his 4 solo CDs, I feel that 'The Exotic Sounds of Martin Denny' is the one disc you need to own from Martin Denny.

---Carl, January 20, 2004