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El Parche

I came across a nice little NPR piece on the YouTube machine about “El Parche”, the late Esteban ‘Steve’ Jordan. Mr. Jordan was an individualist, very hard to pigeonhole into a category. Conjunto? Latin jazz? Cumbia? He had a very distinctive accordion sound. Mr. Jordan played a signature Hohner diatonic button accordion and he used effects like Echoplex and the like to create a sound much different than we normally hear out of that instrument.

Here’s Polkaplex…

Ran Kan Kan

and finally, Summertime



  1. StephenBrassawe

    Sometimes my own ignorance astounds me. And I pay for that. It appears that I am about two years too late to make it to that club on a Friday night in San Antonio.

    • What he has done is really paradoxical to me and really fascinating. The triple row diatonic button accordion is built to make it easy for players to play dance music, and often fast dance music, that has really simple structure. It’s set up with three diatonic scales on the right side with some helper accidentals, and the left side has the fundamental basses and basic chords to accompany the right side in three keys and a couple minors. In Conjunto music, accordion players rarely play the left side. In fact they often remove the reed blocks and used the bass buttons as air valves. This frees them up to make the maximum use of the right side, so on a GCF box, you might also try playing in D and A with some limitations, making full used of the helper accidentals. Usually the accordion in conjunto is a colour instrument, playing fills between the vocal parts. The companion instrument, almost always seen alongside the accordion in Conjunto is the bajo sexto, the 12 string Mexican guitar.

      Then along came Esteban Steve Jordan and he started finding jazz chords and adding more complex Latin rhythms on an instrument designed to facilitate playing simple folk music. When I first heard his music, I thought why doesn’t he just play the chromatic button accordion, which is designed to handle more complex chord structures and which has way more bass button options. The fact that he stuck to the diatonic instrument and really pushed it to it’s limits is what in my mind really makes his music interesting. As for titles like the “world’s greatest” anything, I don’t go in for those much. He’s the “world’s greatest” Steve Jordan, that’s for sure. There hasn’t been anybody I’ve heard that played anything like him.

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