Records with Sonobeat circa 1969-1970
No commercial releases on Sonobeat Records
Austin American-Statesman newspaper ad (February 21, 1965) for a Jade Room appearance by Geneva and Her Gentlemen; during the mid-to-late '60s, Jade Room customarily books rock bands but makes an exception for Geneva's talented pop-jazz combo
From early in 1965 through the late ‘70s, jazzy pop combo Geneva and Her Gentlemen are frequent performers at many Austin, Texas, nightclubs. The combo's first gigs are at The Jade Room in downtown Austin, and beginning in 1966 the group is often featured at The Club Seville at the Crest Motor Inn (now The LINE Austin) on Town Lake (now Lady Bird Lake). From the early- to mid-‘70s, Geneva and Her Gentlemen are The Club Seville house band, usually playing Monday through Saturday nights from 9 to midnight, stepping aside only when the club hosts another act for a night or two. Purveyors of “smooth ballroom soul”, as Texas Monthly Magazine describes the group's sound, Geneva and Her Gentlemen are led by Geneva Taylor Rawlins on piano, vibes, and vocals. Geneva's then-husband, Lionel, generally wields the bass and provides back-up vocals, and Leotis Duffy, known best in Austin jazz circles simply as "Duffy", is on drums. At various times, Geneva's "gentlemen" include a passel of well-known Austin jazz sidemen: T.J. Cleaver on bass; Jimmy Hamilton on drums; Austin Statesman newspaper columnist Jim Langdon on trombone; Fred Smith on tenor sax; and Don "Skipper" Young on a variety of instruments, including vibes and flute. At one point in 1967, Geneva does a stint as pianist in Duffy's Trio. Lionel passes away in 2014.
Although The Club Seville manager Don Dean introduces Sonobeat co-founder and producer Bill Josey Sr. to Geneva in late 1966, years pass before Bill decides to record the group. Although we don't know the exact dates Geneva's tracks are recorded, we're able to bracket the time frame for the sessions because the master tape box is labeled using a Liberty Recorders tracking sheet that Sonobeat doesn't have in its possession until January 1969, when Bill Sr. and Sonobeat co-founder Rim Kelley deliver the masters for their Johnny Winter album, The Progressive Blues Experiment, to purchaser Liberty Records in Los Angeles. It's then they grab a stash of the tape box labels during a visit to Liberty's Hollywood recording studios. Rim recalls tracking the Geneva sessions on Sonobeat's half-inch 4-track Scully 280. He moves to Houston at the end of August 1970, so we confidently can place Geneva's recording sessions between late-January 1969 and mid-summer 1970, but our educated guess is that the sessions occur during 1969. Rim also recalls the basic instrumental tracks are recorded at The Club Seville, Sonobeat's favorite venue for recording pop and jazz artists, including the Lee Arlano Trio, Don Dean, Paul New, Bach-Yen, and Fran Nelson. Vocal overdubs are recorded at Sonobeat's small home-based Western Hills Drive studio in northwest Austin, likely within a few days after the basic instrumental tracks are recorded. Bill Sr. indicates in his notes on the master tape box that Woke Up This Morning, a cover of the B.B. King classic, and the instrumental You Got Me are candidates for a Sonobeat stereo 45 RPM single that never materializes. The 4-track session master of Woke Up This Morning in the Sonobeat library contains a poorly-recorded vocal guide track, but the final 2-track stereo mix features a clean overdub, although we're unable to locate that version on any of the Geneva 4-track masters in the library.
The 4-track session master contains five cuts: two versions of the instrumental You Got Me, Duffy's jazz vocal interpretation of Woke Up This Morning, Geneva's languid solo vocal take on Nobody Else But Me from the Broadway classic Showboat by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, and Geneva and husband Lionel's harmonious duet on the jazz classic Mood Indigo, composed by Duke Ellington and Barney Bigard with lyrics by Irving Mills. We like the sultry smooth jazz of Geneva and Her Gentlemen and think you will, too. Geneva's tracks remain unreleased.
Leotis Duffy: drums
Geneva Rawlins: piano and lead vocals
Lionel Rawlins: bass and harmony vocals
Nobody Else But Me (Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II)
Woke Up This Morning (Jules Bihari/B.B. King)
You Got Me
Produced by Bill Josey Sr.
Engineered by Rim Kelley
Basic instrumental tracks recorded at Club Seville in the Sheraton Cress Inn, Austin, Texas, between January 1969 and mid-summer 1970
Vocal overdubs recorded at Sonobeat’s Western Hills Drive studio in northwest Austin, in the same time frame as the basic instrumental track recordings
Recording equipment: ElectroVoice Slimair 636 microphones, Sony ECM22 electret condenser microphones, Scully 280 half-inch 4-track recorder, Ampex AG350 quarter-inch 2-track recorder, custom 10-channel portable stereo mixer, Fairchild Lumiten 663ST optical compressor, Blonder-Tongue Audio Baton 9-band stereo graphic equalizer, custom steel plate stereo reverb, Ampex 681 tape stock