Jimmy Sabater / April 11, 1936 - Feb 8, 2012

Jimmy Sabater, the velvet-voiced Nuyorican singer & timbalista with the Joe Cuba Sextet, was the smooth English-tongued half of his lead vocal duo with Cheo Feliciano. Check out such great tunes as the smash hit "Bang, Bang", and "To Be With You" (a classic bolero, which Jimmy also cut a good disco version in '76).

A native of El Barrio, he met Joe Cuba while playing stickball and the two joined Joe Panama's band. Eventually Joe Cuba took it over and transformed it into the popular Joe Cuba Sextette. They started making records in the late '50s but it was their '62 album Steppin' Out that broke them big, with Jimmy singing "To Be With You" and wrote and sang "Salsa y Bembé" (the first usage of the word "salsa" in a song). After the success of "Bang Bang", they found themselves the biggest group on the Latin scene. He continued with the Sextet until '77.

He cut several excellent LPs of his own with groovy cuts such as the soulful "Times Are Changin" and the awesome "Que Sabroso". He worked with Charlie Palmieri and Jose Mangual Jr., and later on in his career with Jimmy Bosch and Spanish Harlem Orchestra. His son Jimmy Jr. is a trumpeter and bandleader.

His big breakout ballad:

Jimmy in Black Power mode:

Here he is on the Silvestre Méndez classic "Druma Kuyi":

Here's his disco revamp of "To Be With You":

A fine timbalero, you can hear him on this one:

A favorite of mine:

From the same classic album, Gusto, 1980:

And here's some late career glory:

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