Originally raised in Gurnee, Il; Dennis started playing piano by ear at 8 years old, picking tunes out at the piano and early instruction from his mother. By 11 years, he started formal lessons with Art Peck; studying classical compositions and theory, and later expanding into Jazz and big band.
While attending Warren Township High School in Gurnee, he distinguished himself by earning top music awards, not only on piano, but on drums and percussion as well. He was also a participant in Steinway auditions, placing highly in the Chicago area.
AIR FORCE BANDS
After graduation from high school, Dennis joined the Air Force and became a member of the Air Force Bands for 11 years. During this time he was involved with performances for Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, and then Vice-President George Bush, as well as many visiting dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II. Being with the Air Force Bands gave Dennis the oppurtunity to perform with many stellar performers: Bob Hope, Leslie Uggams, Peter Marshall, Ann Jillian, Aretha Franklin, to name a few.
Upon leaving the Air Force in Alaska, Dennis formed his own group, performing with many visiting Jazz stars including flutist James Newton, and saxophonist Azar Lawrence, and having his rhythm section being hired out with pianist/compser Toshiko Akiyoshi. His associations also let to many TV, radio, and studio recording performances.
In 1986, Dennis returned to Phoenix, where he performed with many of the Valley's leading performers: Francine Reed (w/ Lyle Lovett, also winner of the WC Handy blues Award), Dennis Rowland(from Count Basie) Patti Williams, and trumpet master Jessie McGuire (Tower of Power, James Brown, Wynton Marsalis)
He could also be found filling in with Top-40 band Jamtrak, R&B singer Small Paul, reggae band Donnie Dean Explosion, C&W singer Nina Kaye: as well as leading his own groups.
Dennis' wealth of music experience brought oppurtunites as Music Director and Arranger for many concerts, part time M/D for the CC Jones orchestra, as well as being involved with opening acts for Maynard Ferguson, Etta James, Billy Cobham, George Duke/Stanley Clarke Projec, as well as performing with Gary Puckett and Chuck Berry.
Since moving to Las Vegas in 1992, Dennis has become one of the most consistently working musicians. He has performed with many of Vegas' well known acts, including: Sonny Charles and the Checkmates, Gary Anthony, Greg Peterson, Touch of Silk, the Tommy Thompson Project, the Flamingos, Tommy Alvarado, and the Christy Clayton Band. He's also been with opening acts for The Wreckers (Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp), Chicago, Al Green, Frankie Avalon,, Harvey Mason/Gerald Albright and Friends, and Jay Leno; as well as a stint as musical director for Frank Gorshin.
His seven year Wednesday night jam session at the Kitchen Cafe became "World Famous" through tapings for BBC-TV Europe, as well as numerous articles in the Las Vegas Review Journal, the Las Vegas Sun, Callback News, and What's On magazine.
Wherever Dennis performs it is sure to bring many well-known artists sitting in, including: Buddy Greco, Lezlie Anders, Richie Cole, Mark Giovi, Pat Morita, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme, Frankie Randall, Bobby Rydell, The Scinta's. Former Nevada Lt. Governor Lorraine Hunt, Dennis Bono, and many more.
Besides many public performances, Dennis is also involved in convention and private party work, as well as teaching piano