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Jimmy Sabater
April 11, 1936 - February 08, 2012

L-R: Jimmy Sabater, Willie Garcia, Joe Cuba

One of the great voices in Latin music has passed. Jimmy Sabater, beloved singer of classics like To Be With You, Bang Bang (the mega-hit which he co-wrote) and A Las Seis, died in NYC of natural causes.

Sabater was equally at home singing in either Spanish or English. And, while he will be remembered by many for his work with the Joe Cuba Sextette, Sabater also enjoyed a successful solo career. He was also a lead singer of the great bands Son Boricua and Las Estrellas Caiman.

Although we are awaiting Fania's CD reissues of Sabater's solo work, many of the classic Joe Cuba releases that feature him are available. One good place to start is the wonderful Joe Cuba, A Man And His Music: El Alcalde Del Barrio 2-CD Set. Of special note is the recent Santiago All Stars release, Joya Y Rareza, on which Sabater sang the fiery Bochinchosa. This might possibly be Sabater's final recording.

[Note: Sabater's solo albums can be found on as downloads in the mp3/320 format]

Below is some additional information about Jimmy Sabater written by Dean Rudland for Fania...

Jimmy Sabater was one of the more revered voices in Latin music – his role as one of the main vocalists with the Joe Cuba band for over 20 years pretty much ensured that. This role saw him take to the fore on some of the biggest crossover hits of the 1960s, and appear on some of the most sought after classics of both boogaloo and the nascent salsa scene. Throughout this period he also made several solo albums which highlighted his wonderful and distinctive voice, across a range of material in both Spanish and English, whilst also showcasing his skills as a timbalero of some talent.
Sabater was born in New York in 1936 of parents who had emigrated from Ponce in Puerto Rico. He grew up in the Barrio of Spanish Harlem, surrounded by music, and with neighbours such as Tito Puente, Luis Cruz and Willie Bobo. His dedication to following these greats led to him joining Joe Cuba in the late 50s and immediately giving him a signature song with To Be With You.
The Joe Cuba Sextet was one of the most popular acts on the early 60s Latin scene, but they reached a new level when they started to incorporate the rnb influenced rhythm of the boogaloo into their repertoire. They had pushed towards this in their later recordings at Seeco, but really captured it when they signed to Tico, when they worked up a suggestive dance routine into a hit record. That record, Bang Bang was a massive record, as was its’ b-side Push Push, follow up Oh Yeah and the album that they were all lifted from Wanted, Dead Or Alive. Over the next few years Cuba and the Sextet continued to mine this vein of success, and Tico convinced Jimmy to record as a solo artist in a series of albums produced by Miguel Estivill.
The first solo set out the stall with a mixture of proto salsa, Latin jazz and some classy supper-club soul such as the awesome Times Are Changing In The USA. It was however his second effort, El Hijo De Teresa , that is highly sought after today...
After this release Jimmy returned to the Joe Cuba fold, not releasing his next solo album until his 1980 Fania LP Gusto. During that period he also worked with Bobby Marin on tracks by Ocho and a Latin disco 12 inch To Be With You on the Salsa label, which is also considered to be a classic today.
Written by Dean Rudland / Fania Records

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