Geneva and Her Gentlemen

Austin, Texas

Records with Sonobeat circa 1969-1970
No commercial releases on Sonobeat Records
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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 Radisson) 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 Rawlins on piano, vibes, and vocals. Geneva's husband, Lionel, generally wields the bass and provides back-up vocals, and Leotis Duffy, know 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; 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.

Although Club Seville manager Don Dean introduces Sonobeat co-founder and producer Bill Josey Sr. to Geneva in late 1966, Bill doesn’t decide to record the group for more than two years. 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 studio. Rim recalls tracking the Geneva sessions on Sonobeat's half-inch 4-track Scully 280. He leaves to attend law school in Houston in late August 1970, so we confidently can place Geneva's recording sessions between January 1969 and mid-summer 1970. 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. Geneva's vocal overdubs are recorded at Sonobeat's small Western Hills Drive studio in northwest Austin, likely within a few days after the basic instrumental tracks are recorded.

The 4-track session master contains five cuts; two are instrumentals. One, though, is a languid vocal take on Nobody Else But Me from the Broadway classic Showboat by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, and another is Geneva's duet with husband Lionel of 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.

Sonobeat Tags

Geneva personnel

Leotis Duffy: drums
Geneva Rawlins: piano and lead vocals
Lionel Rawlins: bass and harmony vocals

Unreleased Sonobeat recordings
Mood Indigo (Duke Ellington/Barney Bigard/Irving Mills)
Nobody Else But Me (Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II)
Woke Up This Morning
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

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The Geneva mix-down master shows multiple takes of several songs with two selected as a possible Sonobeat 45 RPM stereo single release
The Geneva 4-track session masters get archived with other artists' tracks on a 10-1/2 inch reel