After taking a crash course in Esteban “Steve” Jordan to write last week’s article on the late, great accordion player (see “’El Parche’ slips away,” Aug. 18), my personal closure came with a trip to Saluté on Thursday. Upon the news of Jordan’s death, Plata (née Eddie Hernandez) decided to dedicate his weekly record-slinging gig to puro El Parche tracks.
As it happened, Plata’s DJ commitment fell right after funeral services for Jordan concluded at a southside Catholic church, and Saluté seemed the natural place to go for many mourners who were also regulars of Jordan’s Friday-night concerts there. Ninety percent of the crowd was dressed in black, but the only somber person in the place was Live & Local photographer Steven Gilmore, who was trying to get a clean shot of the silver-maned Plata. To make room for a large shrine to Jordan on the stage he played for 20 years, Plata wedged himself in a narrow space between the edge of the bar and the front door.
Patrons buzzed about the funeral service, wherein Jordan’s sons, brothers, and sisters paid musical tribute to the accordion wizard, and the entire standing-room-only congregation gave Jordan a minutes-long standing ovation. “It was the most pep-rallyish mass I’d ever been to,” said one attendee.
Spirits were similarly high in Saluté, where Plata spun as much vintage Jordan as he could find, culled from his personal collection and those of Juan Ramos and Walter Chelmrs. Jordan not only played accordion but 34 other instruments, and Plata’s set encapsulated the musician’s expansive range. On many recordings, Jordan played every instrument and multi-tracked his vocals to sing backing and lead. Chalmrs showed me a Japanese edition of Canto Al Pueblo whose back cover included four photos of a young Jordan playing a different instrument in each. From straight-up conjunto featuring Jordan’s magic fingers transforming the dumpy diatonic accordion into a light, nimble melody-maker, to straight-up funk, Plata used his skills as a San Antonio soul music aficionado to cull the best picks from Jordan’s 50-plus albums. Highlights included a cover of The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,’” a funked-out version of “Squeezebox Man,” and an early recording of a gorgeous ranchera called “La Malpagadora” that highlighted Jordan’s rich voice. Plata also mixed in some Jordan classics, his zippy version of the zydeco song “My Toot Toot,” and the much-improved cover of Blood, Sweat, and Tears’ “Spinning Wheel.” In between, there was a fair amount of Latin Jazz. “Where’s the accordion?” I half-jokingly asked Chalmrs. These recordings featured Jordan not on the squeezebox, but playing guitar with large Latin orchestras.
Only once in the evening did eyes grow misty, when Bonnie Cisneros read her poem, “The Corrido de Esteban y Azeneth,” which included the line, “In these parts, Jimi Hendrix is more like the Steve Jordan of the guitar,” a play on the overused description of Steve Jordan as the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion.
After the crowd sniffed back a few tears at the poem’s conclusion, Plata threw on some classic Jordan conjunto, and the club erupted into dance.
Thursday, August 19
Saluté International Bar
2801 N. St. Mary’s