The Cuban multi-percussionist, Orestes Vilato, is undoubtedly one of the greatest figures in the history of Cuban drums known as timbales.
He is one of the most influential figures in the world of Latin percussion.
He was born on May 4, 1944 in Camagüey, Cuba, and currently resides in San Francisco, California in the United States.
He has worked with many of the best exponents of Cuban popular dance music and Latin jazz, from José Antonio Fajardo and Israel López (Cachao) to Rubén Blades and Carlos Santana.
During the 1950s, the Vilato family moved to New York, the world capital of salsa, where the young Orestes would rise to fame as an innovator of his beloved traditional instrument, “Los Timbales.
While living in New York City for 25 years, Orestes was intimately involved with many musical organizations that played key roles in shaping the course of Latin music around the world.
Among the many groups were: Fania All Starts (founding member), Ray Barretto, Tipica 73 (founding member), Los Kimbos (founder-director), Tito Puente, Johnny Pacheco, Cheo Feliciano, Ismael Rivera, Joe Cuba, Eddie Palmieri, Ruben Blades, La Lupe, Celia Cruz, Rolando La Serie, Chico O’Farril, Lionel Hampton, Los Chavales de España, Cal Tjader.
Other artists he has recorded or worked with include: Winton and Bradford Marsalis, Paco De Lucía, Whitney Houston, Linda Ronstadt, Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Cachao, Andy García, Emilio Estefan, Gloria Estefan, Paquito de Rivera, Dave Valentín, Mongo Santamaría, Armando Peraza, John Santos, Rebeca Mauleon, Giovanni Hidalgo and Raúl Rekow.
In 1980 he moved from New York to San Francisco, California, where he worked with Armando Peraza, in the band of Chicano rocker Carlos Santana.
He later recorded with American jazzmen Bobby Hucherson and Buddy Montgomery, and with Cuban percussionist Luis Conte.
He also works with Jon Santos’ Batachanga Orchestra and Machete Ensemble.
In 1992 he recorded with Israel López (Cachao) as well as with Cuban percussionist José Luis Quintana (Changuito).
In 2009 he recorded his production entitled Orestes Vilató ?- Its About Time, with a repertoire in the style of Salsa, Latin Jazz, Descarga.
In 1981, Mr. Vilato moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he continues to reside with his family. From 1980 to 1989 he recorded and toured with Carlos Santana’s renowned band.
Orestes was nominated for a Grammy in 1995 (Latin Jazz category) for his CD, Ritmo y Candela con Patato y Changuito. In 2009 his solo CD Its About Time was nominated for a Latin Grammy.
Orestes has recorded several film soundtracks including Our Latin Thing, Mambo Kings, Carlito’s Way, Steal Big Steal Little, The Bird Cage, Dance With Me, Just A Ticket, Things To Do In Denver and The Lost City.
He has been a special guest artist at multiple jazz festivals around the country and in Puerto Rico, including the San Jose Jazz Festival. He has performed and taught at numerous music conservatories including the Berkeley School of Music, UCLA, the University of Fresno, Stanford University, as well as many conservatories abroad.
Orestes was honored at the Yerba Buena Garden, Monterey and San Francisco Jazz Festivals.
Orestes’ style is one of the most imitated and emulated among recording artists.
Acoustic Bass – Carlitos Puerto Jr.
Backing Vocals, Handclaps – James Zavaleta
Bass – René Camacho
Bongos, Cowbell – Johnny “Dandy” Rodriguez
Co-producer, Timbales, Bongos, Lead Vocals, Cowbell, Cajón, Guiro, Maracas, Claves, Handclaps, Backing Vocals, Music Director – Orestes Vilató
Congas – Joey De León
Engineer [Assistance] – Joshua Blanchard
Engineer, Mixed By – Jimmy Branly
Executive Producer – Camerina Campillo, Ralph Campillo
Flute, Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Justo Almario
Lead Vocals, Handclaps, Backing Vocals – Adonis Puentes
Mastered By – Peter Doell
Piano – Alberto Salas
Piano, Arranged By, Handclaps, Backing Vocals, Music Director – Rebeca Mauleón
Producer [Associate] – Manolo Santana
Tres, Acoustic Guitar – Ramón Stagnaro
Trumpet – Luis Eric González*, Sean Billings