- Monica F. Ambalal
(b New York, NY, April 10, 1911; d Honolulu, HI, March 2, 2005). American pianist, composer, and arranger. His family moved from New York to Los Angeles where he began honing his skills as a classically trained pianist. From 1931 to 1935 he toured South America with his band Los Studientes de Hollywood (also known as the Don Dean Orchestra). This exposure to Latin music profoundly influenced his later musical style. After his service in the air force during World War II, he studied composition at the Los Angeles Conservatory and worked with Arthur Lange and Wesley La Violette. He moved to Honolulu in 1954 to perform at the tiki-themed restaurant, Don the Beachcomber. By 1955 he was on contract at the Shell Bar in the Hilton Hawaiian Village with his own group which featured Arthur Lyman on vibraphone and Augie Colón on drums. In Hawaii Denny composed music that reflected the sounds and diversity of the island. He often incorporated indigenous South American and Polynesian drums and flutes, and later the characteristic bird calls heard in a number of his works. His music highlights bright and woody timbres, and his choices of instrumentation blended percussive and rhythmic elements, along with the cooler sounds of vibraphone and harp. His first official record contract appeared that same year on the newly founded label Liberty Records. His first major success arrived in ...