Records with Sonobeat in 1970 and 1973
One commercial album release on Sonobeat Records (1976)
The actual album cover designed by David Flack in order to finally get Mindbender released in early 1976, after years sitting on the shelf
It's summer 1970, and Austin, Texas-based Sonobeat Recording Company begins studio sessions with San Antonio native and freshly-minted University of Texas business school graduate David Flack, whose trio – David on piano, Emery Alford on drums, and Hugh Sparks on bass – performs as The David Flack Quorum. The resulting album, Mindbender, recorded piecemeal over more than three years, isn't released until 1976. Sonobeat begins recording the album – which fuses jazz, rock, and classical genres – in August 1970 at its home-based Western Hills Drive studio in northwest Austin, eventually completing it in May 1973. The unusually long span is attributable in part to David's departure for military service in 1971, and, when he returns two years later, an extended search for a vocalist who, as David recalls, can "sing against the 'soundtrack' already in the can." Austin jazz and blues singer Marva Jackson eventually is cast as that vocalist and ably fills the role. By the time David recruits Marva, Bill Sr. is in the process of moving the Sonobeat studios from Western Hills Drive to more spacious facilities in the KVET Building on North Lamar near downtown Austin, creating still another bump in the road to the album's completion.
Sonobeat co-founder Rim Kelley (Bill Josey Jr.) co-produces and engineers the Western Hills Drive sessions – consisting of most of the side I tracks – before relocating to Houston in fall 1970, at which time album co-producer Bill Josey Sr. takes over engineering as well as full-time producing duties, finishing up the side I tracks. When David returns in '73 from his Army service, he and Bill Sr. reconnect, and David brings the trio back together to record the rest of the album, after which David and Bill Sr. sequence and mix the album at Sonobeat's KVET Building studio. Bill Sr. immediately begins offering the album to national labels. Eventually, Liberty/UA Records in Hollywood, with which Sonobeat has an established relationship through Sonobeat's 1969 Johnny Winter and 1970 Afro-Caravan albums, expresses interest in Mindbender for its UA and Blue Note labels, but for reasons not recorded in the Sonobeat archives, no deal with Liberty/UA materializes. Fast forward to early 1976, when Bill Sr. is struggling with cancer chemotherapy treatments that frequently debilitate him: David designs the album jacket and finances Sonobeat's regional release of Mindbender in June 1976, after a long and oft-interrupted journey. Notably, Mindbender is Sonobeat's first of only two commercial releases on which its stylized logo (in the ribbon-like Calypso font) does not appear on either the disc label or jacket (the other is Helmer Dahl's album Toe-Tapping Tunes, also released in 1976).
Side I of Mindbender, initially themed under the subtitle Scatter-Power, features six diverse pieces, including Marva's terrific scat (which influences the subtitle that eventually goes unused) on Chas'er and David's moody piano on So-Lo. Side II features the Mindbender Suite, consisting of seven interlinked movements presented without breaks. David composes all songs on the album. In 1969, Emery completes his undergraduate studies at The University of Texas at Austin, and goes on to earn his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The University of Oklahoma, eventually pursuing a career in academia and relocating to Florida, where he still lives. In 1969, Hugh takes his undergrad degree in Music Theory and Composition from The University of Texas at Austin, continuing on to earn his Ph.D. in Music History, Literature, and Theory. Following a 20 year career in the UT music department, Hugh founds Austin-based Hugh Sparks Musical Services and Ursa Major Productions. He succumbs in December 2016 to complications related to diabetes.
Conceptual in approach and communicative by design, Mindbender has that rare quality of freshness and timelessness. The lush chords of Once I Dreamed, the ethereal So-Lo, the funky So What?!, the Brubeck-ish Taste of Time only whet the senses for the incredible suite to follow.
Although there are no breaks between movements, the Mindbender Suite has stunning transitions as the music defines the Universal Character's emotional peaks and valleys. The remarkable effect on the listener is evergreen – indeed, your satisfaction repeatedly grows – and the multi-levels of interpretation offer a distinct aural and mental experience with each playback.
Reflection and excitement, hard times and humor, classical, jazz, and pop-rock are all served up in a successful attempt to reach your consciousness and lead you to a new experience in recorded entertainment.
The talent is evident. The writing is on a wide canvas of colors and styles, and will surely be covered by major artists. DFQ has sterling improvisational ability with clever interplay techniques: The music is engaging, demanding, and fun!
Producer Bill Josey
Emery Alford: pecussion
David Flack: electric and acoustic keyboards
Marva Jackson: vocals
Hugh Sparks: acoustic bass
All tracks composed by David Flack
Purge • 1:57
Once I Dreamed • 5:37
Chas'er • 2:11
So-Lo • 2:06
So What?! • 2:57
Taste of Time • 3:15
Side II (Mindbender Suite):
Free - Part 1 • 3:03
Glimpses • 1:09
Light • 4:31
Heavy • 1:41
Blue • 3:00
Free - Part 2 • 1:32
Flashback • 4:54
Producers (uncredited): Bill Josey Sr. and David Flack
Engineers: Bill Josey Sr. and Bill Josey Jr.
Front and back jacket photographs: Roy Harlow Jr. and John Cross Jr.
Liner notes: Bill Josey Sr.
Recorded at Sonobeat Studios, Austin, Texas, August 17-18, 1970, and in April and May 1973
Recording equipment: ElectroVoice Slimair 636 microphones, Sony ECM22 electret condenser microphones, Scully 280 half-inch 4-track recorder, Stemco half-inch 4-track recorder, Ampex AG350 quarter-inch 2-track recorder, custom 16-channel 4-bus mixing console, Fairchild Lumiten 663ST optical compressor, Blonder-Tongue Audio Baton 9-band stereo graphic equalizer, custom steel plate stereo reverb, 3M (Scotch) 206 and Ampex 681 tape stock
Unknown number of copies pressed
Lacquers mastered and vinyl copies pressed by Wakefield Manufacturing in Phoenix, Arizona
Black and white jacket (front and back)
Labels and jackets printed by Wakefield Manufacturing in Phoenix, Arizona
In the dead wax:
Side I: DFQS-A, DFQS-100-A, and WMEMI-S
Side II: DFQS-B, DFQS-100-B, and WMEMI-S
There are no unreleased songs by the David Flack Quorum in the Sonobeat archives