Orestes Vilató isn`t a huge name in salsa/Afro-Cuban music; most salseros won`t recognize his name as quickly as they recognize names like Eddie Palmieri, Tito Rodriguez, Celia Cruz, Héctor Lavoe, Oscar D`León, and Tito Puente. Nonetheless, the Cuban percussionist has some impressive credentials; his résumé includes associations with the Fania All-Stars, Ray Barretto, Johnny Pacheco, and Cachao, among many others. Vilató has spent much of his career as a sideman, but It`s About Time gives listeners a chance to hear him performing as a leader. With pianist Rebeca Mauleón serving as producer, Vilató delivers a salsa-oriented album that is dominated by vocal offerings but occasionally detours into instrumental Latin jazz. Nothing groundbreaking occurs, but all of the performances are solid and inspired -- and Adonis Puentes (the album`s main lead singer) brings a lot of passion to "Consuélate Como Yo," "Olvido," "Toca Vilató," and other energetic offerings. Another noteworthy track is "Remembering Ray," a jazz-influenced cha cha written in memory of the late Ray Barretto; the tune recalls "Cocinando" (one of Barretto`s major hits for Fania Records) as well as "Oye Como Va," the Tito Puente classic that, in 1970, received the Latin rock treatment from Carlos Santana (who Vilató, by the way, has played with). It`s About Time was recorded in 2008 in Los Angeles, a city that, historically, hasn`t had nearly as many salsa/Afro-Cuban recording sessions as New York City or Miami. Los Angeles, one of the biggest hotbeds of Mexican culture, is a place where one is more likely to hear mariachi, banda, norteño, or duranguense in a recording studio than salsa/Afro-Cuban music. But It`s About Time is most definitely a salsa/Afro-Cuban album, and it is an album that Vilató can easily be proud of.
It has been a long time in decades since this former member of such orquestas as Tipica `73 (later Los Kimbos), La Orquesta De Ray Barretto and The Original Fania All-Stars has been heard from in any circle. This recording is a triumverate return to the Old School Salsa roots that he has mastered in his career. Since his move to Los Angeles from New York, I believe that Vilato had this one planned in silence so as to make us realise that this funk is still very much alive. He opens up with "Como El Macao, Candela" and the rest of this recording does not fail. The Cuban Classic "Consuelate Como Yo" is interpreted in Vilato`s own inimitable fashion. "Mulata Rumbero" is my recommendation (besides the first track) and "Remembering Ray" is a homage to the late Las Manos Duras (Hard Hands), who passed away in New Jersey in 2007