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Esteban 'Steve' Jordan, virtuoso accordionist, dies at 71

From Terence McArdle, our resident music resource:

Esteban "Steve" Jordan, 71, the innovative Tejano accordionist who broadened the range and repertoire of conjunto music and influenced such performers as Los Lobos and Brave Combo, died August 13 in San Antonio. He had liver cancer.

Mr. Jordan, sometimes called the Jimi Hendrix of the button accordion, added many of the guitarist's electronic devices to the instrument and adapted jazz standards such as "Harlem Nocturne" and "Midnight Sun" and uptown rhythm'n'blues to a genre best known for polkas, waltzes and boleros.

Here is his cover of the Radiants' 60s soul classic "Ain't No Big Thing":

A charismatic performer who often dressed in purple vests and shiny gold shirts with buccaneer sleeves, Mr. Jordan was known as "El Parche" (the Patch) because of the snakeskin pirate's patch he wore over his right eye.

Esteban Jordan was born February 23, 1939 in Elsa, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. Blinded in his right eye just after birth when a midwife rinsed his eyes with a contaminated fluid, Mr. Jordan was the smallest and sickliest of 15 children born to migrant farm worker parents.

By age seven, Mr. Jordan had already learned harmonica and guitar. While playing guitar in a migrant camp, Mr. Jordan met and jammed on guitar with the teen-aged accordionist Valerio Longoria, who later became a star in the tejano genre.

It was Longoria who inspired young Mr. Jordan to take up the squeeze box. In interviews, Mr. Jordan claimed he could play at least 35 instruments and his credits included a stint with as a guitarist with the Afro-Cuban jazz percussionist Willie Bobo in the early 1960s, a job that opened his ears to the rhythms and harmonies he later brought to his work as an accordionist.

Somewhat reclusive when not performing, Mr. Jordan could often be found fishing at Padre Island National Seashore or off the piers at Corpus Christi. In the last year, he had just released the self-published CD "Carta Espiritual." He played all the instrument parts on that album, the first of a nine-CD project he had been laboring on for the last decade.

NPR aired a ">profile of Mr. Jordan in 2009.
A full obituary will follow.

By Emma Brown  |  August 15, 2010; 4:26 PM ET
Categories:  Musicians  | Tags: conjunto, esteban jordan died, esteban steve jordan accordionist, steve jordan died, tejano  
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Comments

Thanks for posting what no news agency in Texas has the guts to post! I grew up in McAllen Tx. and remember the migrant workers hanging out with him on Beaumont street! He lived in a small rent house @ 2534 behind my grandmothers! most of his albums were recorded @ Discos Del Valle records with Christobal Garcia! I remember he told him he would give him his album if he paid him back the rent of $55. ? Mr. Garcia was my Uncle. I wonder if his sons paid the three months to the company in Florida my uncle lost the recordings to, if they would be due the royalties he missed out on? He was truly a gift as a musician and a joy to listen to! My name is Ed and proud to say
Soy de Tejas!

Posted by: dimnurse | August 18, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

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