Born in Camagüey, Cuba in 1944, multi-percussionist Orestes Vilató is one of the most influential figures in the world of Latin percussion. As a young boy in Cuba, Orestes was encouraged by his father to pursue his passion for music, turning his first instrument — a guitar — upside-down and playing it like a drum. After receiving his first bongos, a young Orestes immersed himself in studying the music of his homeland, inspired by the many greats he heard on the radio as well as in person.
During the 1950s, the Vilató family moved to New York, and soon Orestes began playing his first timbales. As a teen he honed his skills alongside many pioneers of the Cuban and Jazz music scenes, including Chico O´Farrill, Belisario López, José Fajardo, Lionel Hampton and others. His legacy as founding member of the Fania All Stars would place him at the center of the Salsa explosion of the 1970s, where Orestes would participate in the various seminal recordings and performances of the genre.
In 1995, Orestes earned a Grammy nomination for the groundbreaking album Ritmo y Candela alongside fellow Cuban percussion legends Carlos “Patato” Valdez and José Luis Quintana “Changuito,” and has graced the Grammy-winning albums of Cuban bassist/composer and original Mambo King Israel “Cachao” López.His own 2009 album It’s About Time was also nominated for a Grammy. 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. Since relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1981, Orestes maintains his place as one of the most in-demand percussionists on the planet. Visit Orestes online at: http://www.orestesvilato.com/
Maria Marquez, gracefully poised between jazz and world music, has been credited for possessing gifts which echo those of Edith Piaf and Nina Simone.
In 2003 Jesse “Chuy” Varela wrote for Latin Beat Magazine: “Maria Marquez is a diva blessed with all the technical facilities to express herself freely: breathing, intonation, swing and a heart that evokes emotion, making you laugh, cry and holler with happiness.”
Maria was born in Caracas – Venezuela, the smallest of three daughters. Her parents a source of great inspiration in her work were Jose Enrique, a lawyer, reserved gentle man who loved to spend time reading books, and her mother Maria Antonia, a vivaciously independent and beautiful woman, from whom Maria learned her love for music.
Maria is a graduate of Berklee College of Music where she studied composition, arranging and film scoring for 5 years.Maria has been involved in a number of seminal projects including the onda nueva movement in her native Venezuela, collaborations with Frank Harris which were part of the beginning of the world music movement and her work as as co-lead singer, composer, arranger and co-producer with the all women World Music group “Wild Mango”.
Maria has two self produced C.D.’s “Eleven Love Stories/Onze Canciones De Amor “and“Nature’s Princess/Princesa de la Naturaleza” (Adventure Music) both of which were released to critical acclaim. She was the musical programmer for Jazz 95.5 FM (Caracas) where she also produced and hosted her own radio show of world music and jazz. to produce radio shows. She continued her interest in radio in America and is in her third year producing a radio show “Desde la Bahia” which is sent over the Internet to her native country Venezuela. Maria is currently in the final production stages for her next project to be released early in 2012. Visit Maria online at: http://www.mariamarquez.com/
Composer and woodwind mulit-instrumentalist Sheldon Brown has been involved in theSan Francisco Bay Area creative music scene for over 20 years. Since 1994 he has led his own band, Sheldon Brown Group, which performs his own compositions, and he recently formed Sheldon Brown Quintet, which performs the music of Herbie Nichols.
Brown has performed internationally as a featured soloist with Cuban pianist Omar Sosa, and recorded on 5 of Sosa’s albums. While with Sosa he performed at The North Sea Jazz Festival in Den Haag, New Morning in Paris, Tribute to the Love Generation in Tokyo and many others.
Brown is a prolific composer who has written music for his own and many other groups he performs with. For Club Foot Orchestra he composed music for the silent films, Metropolis, Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr., Pandora’s Box, and The Hands of Orlac.
He also wrote music for Club Foot’s scores for the cartoon series The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat, which aired on CBS.
David Pinto is a Peruvian native best-known for his work as music director, arranger, and bassist for Grammy-winner Susana Baca, Diva of Afro-Peruvian song. He was member of Peru Jazz, a group highly praised for their innovation and fusion of Peruvian roots and jazz. He has performed at various international jazz and world music festivals, such as WOMAD in Nice, Paris, Glastonbury, and Montreal. He has toured internationally in theaters, including The Kennedy Center and The Hollywood Bowl, Theatre De La Ville (Paris), and Royal Festival Hall (London). David also leads and performs with his own group Syncopated Colors, as well as teaching at the Jazz School in Berkeley, California.
Omar Ledezma Jr.
GRAMMY NOMINEE singer and percussionist Omar Ledezma Jr. was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He began to develop his first drum skills at age of 13, when drumming for the marching band of Colegio Claret in El Hatillo, Caracas. At 16 he started playing hand percussion with friends in small ensembles and began studying with percussionists Jorge “Cro-Cro” Orta and Ruben Garcia. He received The North American Scholarship to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music and during college years, Omar kept a busy schedule at the latin music scene of Boston and New York, playing, recording and touring with International Artists such as Jerry Rivera, Tito Gomez, Paquito D’ Rivera, Edwin Pabon, Alex Alvear & Mango Blue, Bandon 33, Mo Guajiro and Jose Conde. and he is also a founder member of the international acclaimed and GRAMMY nominee La Clave Secreta (former La Timba Loca). Omar has played with the most important flamenco artists of USA and Spain such as Joaquin Grillo, Omayra Amaya, Joaquin Encinias, El Veneno and Chuscales in the show “Son Y Soniquete”.
After seven years living in the East Coast, Omar moved to California where he is a Faculty member of the Community Music Center at the heart of San Francisco in The Mission. Omar is an exclusive PEARL PERCUSSION endorsee artist. For more information about Omar, please visit the following links:
Community Music Center
Omar on Facebook
Omar on Twitter
Jonathan Alford started playing the piano at 5. Taught by a musical father Jonathan played classical piano until he began exploring the world of jazz and latin music in his late 20’s.Largely self taught Alford has become a mainstay of the vibrant SF bay area music scene. He has played with latin greats like Orestes Vilato, John Santos, Chocolate Armenteros and has performed at the SF and San Jose Jazz Festivals and other venues worldwide. He has started to concentrate on composing and is working on a album of music for classical piano trio.