Martin Denny was born April 10, 1911 in New York City. A child prodigy, at age ten he studied piano under Lester Spitz and Isadore Gorn. For four years he toured South America with the Don Dean Orchestra, followed by a 43-month stint in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. Following his December 1945 discharge, Denny settled in Los Angeles, studying piano, composition, and orchestration at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. In early 1954 he relocated to Hawaii, contracting to appear at the Honolulu club Don the Beachcomber's. The following year Denny formed his own group, originally consisting of vibist Arthur Lyman, bassist John Kramer, and percussionist Augie Colón. In 1956, while appearing at steel and shipping magnate Henry Kaiser's Shell Bar -- a club inside the open-air Oahu resort Hawaiian Village, complete with a small pond adjacent to the stage -- the combo realized that the croaking of nearby bullfrogs blended perfectly with their tropical musical approach. On a lark, Colón also began imitating bird calls on-stage, much to the delight of the audience. Denny soon began incorporating South Pacific and Far East instruments into his arrangements as well, and by the time he recorded his Liberty Records debut, 1957's Exotica, his singular sound was firmly in place.