Nicky Orta was born on April 29, 1964 in Las Vegas, Nevada. As part of a musical family --- his father, Ernesto, was a guitarist, and his brother, Michael, is a pianist --- it was inevitable that Nicky would try his hand at a musical instrument. At age 11, his father asked him if he would like to play the bass and Nicky quickly discovered that he had an affinity for the instrument. He spent hours in his room copying bass lines from records. After a couple of years of playing by ear, Nicky was introduced to the brilliant and renowned instructor Vince Bredice with whom he studied for 12 years. In 1984 Nicky was offered a scholarship at Miami Dade Community College. As a member of the Top Secret Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of John Georgini, he performed at the 1986 Montreux and North Sea jazz festivals. The Top Secret Sextet continued on as Ambassadors of Goodwill for a 5-week tour of Africa sponsored by the United States Information Agency. In 1986 Nicky was recruited on scholarship by the University of Miami. While there, he was part of the prestigious Concert Jazz Band under the direction of Whit Sidener. With the CJB, Nicky toured Italy for one month and recorded on their CD entitled Pandamandium. While at the university he studied with head bass instructor Don Coffman. During this time Nicky was a member of the jazz/fusion group, The Wave, which recorded two albums on the Atlantic Jazz record label.
In 1988, the Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval made his way to Miami and formed a group for a world tour that included Nicky on electric bass. This group appears on Sandoval's debut recording on the GRP label entitled Flight to Freedom.
Nicky's versatility with musical styles has enabled him to perform with many artists in a variety of genres. In the jazz idiom, he has performed/recorded with artists such as Randy Brecker, Othello Molineaux, Toots Thielemans, Mike Stern, Chick Corea, Paquito D'Rivera, Ernie Watts, Randy Bernsen, James Moody, Danilo Perez, Carlos Averhoff, Nestor Torres, Horacio Hernandez, Sammy Figueroa, Dave Valentin, Gary Campbell, Dave Weckl, and many others. In the Latin/pop genre, Nicky has performed and recorded with a long list of artists that includes Cristian Castro, Alexander Pires, Gloria Estefan, Alejandro Fernandez, Engelbert Humperdinck, Wayne Newton, Candido, and Israel "Cachao" Lopez. In 2005, Nicky received a Grammy nomination for his work on the album "...And Sammy Walked In" by Sammy Figueroa and his Latin Jazz Explosion.
In 1994, a recommendation by Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip landed Nicky an audition with Latin superstar Julio Iglesias, with whom he toured for seven years.
Aside from performing, Nicky has been an active educator, having held teaching positions at Miami Dade Community College (1989-1992), and Florida International University (1992-2008). He has also given clinics and lectures in the U.S., Africa, Brazil, Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Panama. In 1992, Nicky, along with fellow bassist Matt Bonelli, formed F-Clef Productions, Inc. and presented three Jazz Bass Conferences --- possibly the first time this had been done. These conferences featured guest artists John Patitucci, Louis Johnson, Will Lee, Jim Roberts, Victor Wooten, Steve Bailey, Eddie Gomez, Michael Manring, Gerald Veasley, Jimmy Haslip, and Gary Willis. The 1993 conference produced a feature article by Jim Roberts in Bass Player magazine (Finding Your Sound: A Roundtable with Michael Manring, Eddie Gomez, and Gerald Veasley. Nov. 1993) and inspired a book by Jim Roberts, How the Fender Bass Changed the World (Backbeat Books. 2001), based on his lecture that year. Nicky was a contributing author in BDGuide (Latin Jazz --- It's Not What You May Think. Nov/Dec 1993), appeared in Jazz Player magazine (Nov/Dec 1994) and was interviewed by Bass Player magazine (Bull Ring Bass with Julio Iglesias. Bass Notes, July 1996). Nicky contributed a chapter on the electric bass for the book/DVD, Jazz Pedagogy: The Jazz Educator's Handbook and Resource Guide by J. Richard Dunscomb and Willie L. Hill, Jr. (Warner Bros.) In 2010, Nicky became a Founder of the Miami Jazz Cooperative, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting jazz and jazz education in South Florida.
Nicky was featured in an article written by Oscar Stagnaro for Músico Pro magazine (Maestros del Bajo Latino. January 2008). Nicky was one of the judges for the Gold Coast Jazz Society Scholarship Competition held in April 2009. In April 2010, Nicky was interviewed by Jon Liebman for the site forbassplayersonly.com.
Nicky's current musical projects are the Araya Orta Latin Jazz Quartet, a group consisting of two pairs of brothers: Michael & Nicky Orta along with Carlomagno & Ramses Araya. This group has performed at the FIA in Costa Rica in March 2010, the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival in Tulum, Mexico, and at the Teatro Nacional in Costa Rica where the quartet performed two concerts with special guests Paquito D'Rivera and Diego Urcola. Most recently the quartet performed at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival in St. Paul, MN. They also performed with Ernie Watts and the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica at the Teatro Nacional in San Jose. Nicky is currently co-producing a CD, Child's Play, by his wife, vocalist Debbie Orta.
Nicky is on the adjunct faculty at University of Miami Frost School of Music teaching Electric Bass and directing several ensembles.