When Peru-born Jhair Salas was barely three years old, he sat with his father beating on wooden boxes known as cajons. Even at that tender age, Jhair displayed signs of percussive talent. He matured and left Peru for the U.S., where he has become a skillful percussionist. Jhair playing represents a new school approach to Peruvian, Brazilian, and Afro-Cuban musical styles.
Since age six, Sala has been honing his technique with formal studies. First, his parents brought him to Lucho Gomez, who taught him proper finger, hand, and palm techniques for cajon. Jhair quickly embraced the cajon and other indigenous percussion instruments. During his teens he performed with his mother's band, The Mariela Valencia Show.
His family immigrated to America where work was more plentiful. The move gave Jhair an opportunity to study percussion with Pedrito Martinez, the young Cuban percussionist who combined melody and rhythm in an unprecedented fashion. Under Pedrito's guidance, Jhair absorbed Cuban music and gained fluency on congas, bongos, timbales, and Bata. Today, Jhair is a core member of the Pedrito Martinez Group.
Jhair has performed with other groups like Kambalache Negro, where he revealed a unique slant on soloing and grooving. His career took off and he received gigs with vocalists and instrumentalists from the likes of Desmond Child & Rouge, Justo Betancourt, Xiomara Laugart, Brenda K. Star, Jimmy Bosch, Frankie Vasquez, Frankie Morales, Ileana Santamaria, and Andy Montanez.
Jhair gained a reputation as a sensitive accompanist. One of his first collaborations was with Mongo Santamaria's oldest daughter, Ileana, who cut the album I Know What I Want. Jhair's session tally includes Edmar Castañeda, Yerba Buena, Fulanito, and R & B up and comer Jessy Boykins. Meanwhile he kept up a live presence with Eva Ayllon, Giomar Antonio, and Pepe Vasquez. In addition, Jhair appeared on the Songwriters' Hall of Fame show aside Osmany Paredes.
Jhair Sala is comfortable in all Latin genres, attributing his versatality to a close study of such masters as Giovanni Hidalgo, Little Johnny Rivero, Karl Perazzo, Pedrito Martinez, Marvin Diz, Mariela Valencia, Carlos Sala, and Juanchi Vasquez.
Whether it's Salsa, Rumba, Samba, or Latin Jazz, Jhair keeps the tradition alive with a faultless groove, while injecting an edgy and contemporary feel.