Cuban multi-percussionist, Orestes Vilato, is undoubtedly one of the greatest figures in the history of the Cuban drums known as timbales.
During the fifties, the Vilato family moved to New York, salsa capital of the world, where young Orestes would rise to fame as an innovator of his beloved traditional instrument, “Los Timbales”. While living in New York for 25 years, Orestes was intimately involved with many musical organizations that played seminal 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 Espana, Cal Tjader.
Other artists with whom he has recorded or worked include: Winton and Bradford Marsalis, Paco De Lucia, Whitney Houston, Linda Ronstadt, Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Cachao, Andy Garcia, Emilio Estefan, Gloria Estefan, Paquito de Rivera, Dave Valentin, Mongo Santamaria, Armando Peraza, John Santos, Rebeca Mauleon, Giovanni Hidalgo and Raul Rekow.
In 1981, Mr. Vilato moved to the San Francisco Bay area, where he still resides with his family. From 1980 to 1989 he recorded and toured with the renowned Carlos Santana Band.
Orestes was nominated for a Grammy in 1995 (Latin Jazz category) for his CD, Ritmo Y Candela With Patato and Changuito. In 2009 his solo CD Its About Time was nominated for a Latin Grammy.
Orestes has recorded several movie sound tracks that include: 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 in multiple Jazz Festivals around the country and Puerto Rico including the San Jose Jazz Festival. He has performed and taught at numerous music conservatories including The Berkeley School of Music, UCLA, Fresno University, Standford University as well as many conservatories overseas.
Orestes was given tribute at Yerba Buena Garden, Monterey and San Francisco Jazz Festivals.
Orestes’ style is one of the most imitated and emulated among recording-performing artists.