One of the greatest timbaleros and vocalists of all time in the salsa scene, Jaime “Jimmy” Sabater, born to parents Nestor Sabater and Teresa Gonzalez of Ponce, Puerto Rico on April 11, 1936 in New York City, passed away on Wednesday, February 8, 2012.
“Jimmy was an incredible vocal stylist and a supremely gifted percussionist,” says Willie Martinez, a friend and mentee of Sabater. “He always had an encouraging word for the young cats coming up and always spoke the truth about life and music. I'm going to miss him very much. May he always rest in peace and perpetual light.”
As a Son of El Barrio in East Harlem, Sabater grew up to become a prominent timbale player and later lead vocalist of the Joe Cuba Sextet, a legendary band that debuted at the Stardust Ballroom in 1954, lead by Puerto Rican musician Joe Cuba, known as the King of Latin Boogaloo . Latin boogaloo quickly became popular among Cubans and Puerto Ricans in New York City. The style was a fusion of R&B, Rock-n-Roll, and soul with mambo and son montuno. “This unique hornless Afro-Cuban dance music combo with a driving Nuyorican attitude featured tight vocal harmonies in place of horns in what became known as the chew-wah style (which was influenced by African American doo wop, R & B and Cuban vocalist Fellove), complex unison cierres (stop time percussion breaks), and the use of the vibraphone, an instrument mostly associated with jazz,” says Bobby Sanabria, a renowned Latin musician.
It wasn’t until the early 1960’s when Sabater cemented his legendary status by singing “To Be With You,” featured on the album “Steppin’ Out” written by Willie Torres, a talented vocalist who had just left the Joe Cuba Sextet. The combination of English lyrics, slow ballad/bolero tempo and soulful interpretation by Sabater caught the attention of African American audiences as well as a new generation of young bi-cultural NYC based Puerto Ricans who grew up listening to doo wop, R & B, rock-n-roll as well as Afro-Cuban dance styles like mambo and cha-cha-cha. The song crossed over into mainstream radio and became Sabater’s signature song, captivating audiences worldwide. Although primarily recognized for his voice, landing him on hundreds of salsa albums, Sabater was indeed a force to be reckoned with on the timbales and one of Salsa’s greatest talents.
You can listen to some of his recorded work at: http://www.rmpromotions.com/