Jack Denny

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The man whose name resembles a comic genius with a single typo led a high society dance band in the '30s and '40s. Jack Denny had hit records during this period but was"Nevertheless" literally drummed…
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The man whose name resembles a comic genius with a single typo led a high society dance band in the '30s and '40s. Jack Denny had hit records during this period but was"Nevertheless" literally drummed out of business by changing musical styles. The lights were particularly low in Denny's den following a fiasco in which he and his band were upstaged by an opening act. That was Xavier Cugat, fronting a percussion-laden band that was so hot that the stars of the show seemed mere

piddlers in contrast. Denny became so furious at all the attention Cugat was getting that he went to the management and threatened to quit if something wasn't done. He was told to go ahead and quit and was promptly replaced by Leo Reisman's band.

Things weren't always so bleak for the group known variously as the Jack Denny Orchestra, Jack Denny and His Orchestra and the Jack Denny Studio Orchestra. The group's sound was at times especially unique due to the lack of a brass section, an effect that was indeed intentional on Denny's part and not just the result of a mass, or rather brass walkout. Denny presented his own vocals and that of featured singers on a cushy bed of saxophones and strings. Close listening revealed extra clarinets and oboes in the reed section, an effect that may have gone over the heads or under the feet of dancers at venues such as Montreal's Mount Royal Hotel and the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

Denny continually experimented with his instrumentation, putting a total of three pianists onstage at once during one of his Montreal runs. His recordings with RCA Victor and Brunswick were made to sound much more in uniform with what every other group was doing, although the non-brass outfit does show up on 1932 RCA sides. Highlights of Denny's pile of 78s includes the confessional "I Can't Do Without You", a visionary rendition of "My Mother's Eyes" with Jack Parker singing and of course "Nevertheless". This standard had lyrics by Harry Ruby and music by Bert Kalmar and became popular following the Denny recording in 1931.