Esteban Jordan, 67, "El Parche," who many call the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion, who plays what is simply impossible on the accordion, esta muy enfermo.
The last time I heard him play, he played a shorter set, and without the electric thunder of the past.
If you've ever heard him play, you will never forget it. The grammy-nominated master accordionist is our Paco D'Lucia, Hendrix, and Astor Piazzolla: Fire, cantina, and the grace of hell reside in his hands, and in those blinded eyes that have seen too much.
Esteban, born in the South Texas Valley and a son of a migrant family who didn't get an education, is notoriously difficult and protective of his music and image. It's the reason you may not know who he is, but now you do.
The only place to hear him in San Antonio is at Salute on Friday nights, accompanied by two of his accomplished sons and the prodigy Juanito on the drums. Lately, he's been playing less sets with longer intermissions. Azeneth Dominguez, the owner of the venerable bar on St. Mary's that specializes in jazzy, twisty, and rocknroll conjunto, is thinking of shutting down because - it's breaking her to keep it open. The sophisticated audience at Salute has included Juan Tejeda, Flaco Jimenez (who used to go hear Esteban play), assorted conjunto freaks, Los Macarturos, labor organizers, and even the anti-polkista Sandra Cisneros back in the day.
"When you go hear Esteban, get on for the ride," says artist Joan Frederick, a twenty-year veterana of Esteban's houevre. She remembers the time that Azeneth brought mariachis into the bar to serenade Esteban for his birthday, and how the mariachis played and played for him, and how Esteban knew the words to all the songs, and made the rancheras even better somehow, different, una locura, infinite.
Esteban, you have my life in your accordion.
photo credit: www.estebanjordan.com