Orestes Vilato: Rare Club appearance In The SF Bay

Posted on Dec 19, 2014

The Bay Area has been enjoying a renaissance of great Salsa and Latin Jazz for years now.  We have been lucky to have great musicians reside in the area for decades.  One of the creme de la creme that we are blessed to have in this area is all-star percussionist Orestes Vilato.   This gentleman needs no introduction as his mark has been made on countless recordings under his own name and in association with such luminaries as Santana, Tipica 73 and on the classic Ritmo Y Candela with Changuito and Patato Valdes to name a few.  Orestes is a  graduate of the classic NY scene going back to the 1960’s.   Orestes an alumni of Ray Barretto’s charanga and salsa bands and an original member of the Fania All Stars.   Vilato made a recent rare club appearance at the new Elevate Wednesday scene located at the Berkeley Underground club (site of the old Mr. E’s).  He was joined by an all-star quintet made up of John Santos, Marco Diaz, Saul Sierra and vocalist Orlando Torriente.  The size of Orestes’s group didn’t matter, their music was danceable and explosive as evidenced by a packed dance floor of sweaty and smiling bailadores!  Vilato displayed his flawless technique on timbales and bongo as he was locked into the effortless groove that Santos and company performed on stage.  I was impressed with their impeccable taste and showmanship as they turned standards such as “Cachita” and “Maria Cervantes” into swinging romps topped by Torriente’s passionate soneos (vocal improvisations).  The crowd sensed that they were witnessing something extraordinary by the excitement and the “vibes” that were felt at the club that evening.  It isn’t often that you see a legendary master as Vilato in a club setting…it was delicious to the ear and the feet.