Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Steve Jordan

  • The Return of El Parche [Rounder, 1988] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Return of El Parche [Rounder, 1988]
In a decade that's rediscovered the accordion's heritage as portable people's orchestra, this 50-year-old is as timely as Astor Piazzolla. Influenced by both Afro-Latin rhythms and the border polkas he played as a kid, he's every bit as original and a lot raunchier. It's the usual overstatement to call him the Jimi Hendrix of Tex-Mex--though I don't doubt he's the finest improvisor in his idiom, Jimi cuts him deeper than the assailant who took two years out of Jordan's career in a New Mexico bar in 1973. But if on casual hearing Carl Finch's loving compilation sounds insularly subcultural, the briefest check against Finch's two multi-artist Rounder ¡Conjunto! collections puts Jordan's all-American swing and sonic range into relief--even Flaco Jimenez is folkloric (though equally wondrous) by comparison. Far from generic, Jordan's distinctive sound can connect furriners like me to the genre. I'm sure I can't feel it the way someone who lives among Chicanos can, but I'll call it rock and roll if he will. A-