Records with Sonobeat in 1967
One commercial 45 RPM release on Sonobeat Records (1967)
- Sonobeat 50th Anniversary Artist Pop Don Dean • Night Life (1967)
A publicity photo provided by Don Dean, turned into a high contrast image by Miller Blueprint in Austin, provides the backdrop for the sleeve design by Sonobeat co-founder Rim Kelley
The dapper Club Seville manager and house vocalist Don Dean (circa 1967)
The "A" side of Don's 1967 Sonobeat stereo 45 RPM single
During the 1960s, dapper Don Dean is manager of the elegant Club Seville at the Sheraton Crest Inn (now the Radisson Hotel) on Austin's Town Lake (now Lady Bird Lake). Don has a remarkable eye and ear for talented entertainers, having apprenticed for Paul New's father at the famous Cocoanut Grove nightclub at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Don brings the Club Seville a mix of local musicians, such as the pop combo Kings IV (headed by Michael Stevens), and renowned performers from afar, including Viet Nam's exotic songbird Bach-Yen, Colorado-based jazz virtuoso The Lee Arlano Trio (both also Sonobeat recording artists), and Paul New (who Sonobeat also records but whose material is never released). Don also happens to be a damn good master of ceremonies, singer, and friend to Sonobeat co-founder Bill Josey Sr.
Under Don Dean, the Club Seville is the first Austin night club to sign for a package of KAZZ-FM live remote broadcasts in 1965, all hosted by Bill Sr., a tradition that continues on a regular basis through KAZZ's final live broadcast, on New Year's Eve 1967. Don also performs with the Club Seville house band frequently and can belt 'em out with the best of the pop stylists of the era, his voice and phrasing reminiscent in many ways of that other Dean (Martin). Don's single Night Life, a production subsidized by the Club Seville, was Sonobeat's third stereo 45 RPM release.
If any Sonobeat recording fully embraces Austin's indigenous jazz scene in the '60s, it's Don's free-swinging interpretation of Rodgers and Hart's Where or When (from the 1939 Broadway musical Babes in Arms), the single's "B" side. The "A" side, Night Life, is Don's literate and lively reading of Willie Nelson's 1959 classic, which was a big hit in 1960 for country singer Ray Price. Both sides are backed by the versatile Michael Stevens IV, who also back Sonobeat's Fran Nelson single in 1968, and are produced by Bill Josey Sr.
Recorded at the Club Seville on September 30, 1967, Don's instrumental tracks are mixed "wet" – in a single pass – to a quarter-inch 2-track Ampex 354. Don overdubs his vocals a day later at the KAZZ studios in downtown Austin. The result is pure, adult pop jazz. And, of course, in 1967, jazz rhymes with KAZZ, which is how this all started.
Don's single gets the third Sonobeat custom picture sleeve, a high contrast photo of Don in a layout created by Sonobeat co-founder Rim Kelley (Bill Josey Jr.). The single sells surprisingly well, not just at the Club Seville as a must-have souvenir to remind lovebirds of a delightful evening of dining and dancing, but also at downtown Austin music stores J. R. Reed and The Record Shop.
Notwithstanding his formidable stage presence and intense personality, Don is modest and, instead of recording an album for Sonobeat, encourages Bill Sr. to spend his time and resources recording other performers who grace the Club Seville's stage.
Don Dean: vocals
Backing band: Michael Stevens IV
Mark Chaney: bass violin
Ike Ramirez: trumpet
Michael Stevens: piano and vibes
Billy West: drums
"A" side: Night Life (Willie Nelson) • 3:14
"B" side: Where or When (Rogers & Hart) • 2:17
Produced by Bill Josey Sr.
Engineered by Rim Kelley
Single-sided black & white picture sleeve
Basic instrumental tracks recorded at The Club Seville at the Sheraton Crest Hotel, Austin, Texas, on September 30, 1967
Vocals overdubbed at KAZZ-FM, Austin, Texas, on October 1, 1967
Recording equipment: ElectroVoice 665 microphones, Ampex 350 and 354 quarter-inch 2-track tape decks, custom 6-channel portable FET stereo mixer, Scotch 203 tape stock
Between 1,000 and 1,500 copies pressed
Lacquers mastered and vinyl copies pressed by Houston Records, Inc., Houston, Texas
Single-sided black and white picture sleeve
Label blanks and picture sleeve printed by Powell Offset Services, Austin, Texas
In the dead wax:
Night Life: LH-3922
Where or When: LH-3923
"LH" in the matrix number means "Location Houston", which identifies Houston Records, Inc.
Bye, Bye Blackbird (backed by the Lee Arlano Trio)
Don records Night Life and Where or When with two different backing bands: the first shot at backing Don goes to the Lee Arlano Trio, but, as a jazz instrumental combo, the Arlano Trio just isn't used to backing a vocalist, so the arrangement doesn't work. And, Don's vocals are buried in the Arlano Trio mixes. That leads to rerecording Don with the Club Seville house band, the Michael Stevens IV.