Now, his major interest is gaining some premiere listening time for his smooth-jazz music.
"I hadn't expected to take it this far," said Denny, 36, a businessman by education who's been playing tenor, alto and soprano saxophone in full-career mode since only 2012. "I'm just kinda ridin' it as long and as far I can go."
With a successful debut album and a gathering of loyalists in
He travels from
"I like to say I rode a roller-coaster through the ups and downs," said Denny, who'd studied business administration and marketing at
Jazz -- as a hobby, affection and avocation -- offered the opposite direction, except maybe financially. Denny was co-parenting two sons (now 15 and 12) after he re-married. He'd been playing saxophone since sixth grade, in a variety of iterations.
Raised by a single mom, he got his first appraisal from producing "my own"
Denny's "desire" evolved into a group (Too Smooth for Notes) that played every Thursday, helping
"We'd experiment," he said, always relying on his practical business instincts. "We'd make all the mistakes, but while making them, we developed a following and built a circle. You know, you do what you've gotta do. Move on. Do it independently,"
After "meeting" musician
Denny was prepared. He'd augmented his management knowledge at
"It all really boils down to a support network," Denny said during a phone conversation from
"I have a lot of praise and thanks toward my mom and gravitate toward people who are human, real and gravitate toward music. One thing you have is people who believe in you and are genuine like you -- even if I don't have much of a career and sell CDs out of my trunk."
Denny was 10 when his parents were divorced. His mother Najda, an affordable housing executive director, moved he and brother Shawn from
In fourth grade, his teacher said, " 'You look like a sax player. Here's the alto. Try this.' I got it to speak. Like most kids, I realized it's a cool instrument. It has a cooler look. Up until that point, I didn't pay much attention. It might have just been timing and outlet. I needed additional discipline to stick with it.
"When I moved out, my mom said the thing she missed most was hearing me practice."
He was tutored by
Denny never ceased playing. After obtaining a business degree, he started a not-too-jazzy-sounding "marketing agency in the automotive sector of the foundry industry." After
Though the definition -- or implication -- of smooth jazz remains fully elusive in an always fluctuating artistic atmosphere, Denny proudly refers to a "lot of crossover specifically written fort 'Crossover.'
"From the drop of the first beat, it embodies all the influences of '80s rock, soul, R&B, the '90s. It just starts with a basic groove."
Denny, who's recorded a holiday CD ("The Messenger"), is formulating ideas for CD No. 2: "I'll record something on the phone. When I get home, I'll lay it down."
Maintaining smooth jazz energy guarantees an interest in the future.
"It did become cookie-cutter cute and watered-down," Denny said. "Whatever term seems current. A fresh crop of artists is bringing the format back to its originality. A lot of guys are doing great things and bringing back a drive and passion. People are ready for a free sound."
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