Born in Camag Ey, Cuba in 1944, multi-percussionist Orestes Vilato is one of the most influential figures in the world of Latin percussion. His unique style on the Cuban timbales is one of the most emulated in the genre, and his artistry has graced the stage and recording studios with a Who’s Who of musical legends, from Aretha Franklin to Carlos Santana.
As a pioneer of the East Coast Salsa phenomenon, Vilato played a seminal role with such musical institutions and artists as the Fania All Stars, Ray Barretto, Ruben Blades, Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco and many others. After 25 years in New York, Orestes found new musical opportunities in Northern California as a member of the Santana band, forging a road into the Latin Rock genre, and as a result, his virtuoso percussion work would become a main fixture with numerous national and international artists, covering a range of styles from authentic Cuban music to Latin jazz, Salsa, Rock and beyond.
Over the decades Orestes would expand his musical tapestry, particularly through the high visibility of his nine year-stint with the Santana Band, lending his percussion sound to recordings and performances by Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Herbie Hancock, Linda Ronstadt, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, McCoy Tyner, Dave Valentin and Paco De Lucia, among others. He has made numerous appearances as a guest artist at such renowned festivals as the Heineken Jazz Festival (Puerto Rico), San Francisco Jazz Festival, Monterey and San Jose Jazz festivals, and has been the recipient of several tributes and awards.
In addition, Orestes continues to share his musical talent as a clinician for several prestigious music institutions such as Stanford University, UCLA, The Berklee College of Music and the University of Anchorage. He has also recorded on the soundtracks for several highly acclaimed films, including The Mambo Kings, Our Latin Thing and Dance With Me.
Considered one of the most influential timbales players north of Cuba, Orestes Vilato maintains one foot in the rich tradition of his homeland, and the other in the vast exploration of musical fusion in North America and beyond.