Experience: 20+ years
Specialization: Percussion, background vocals.
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 Sala was displaying signs of percussive talent. Sala matured and left Peru for New Jersey, where he has become a skillful percussionist. Jhair Sala playing represents a new school approach to Afro-Peruvian 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, who he travel at a early age to diferents parts of the world.
The family immigrated to America where work was more plentiful. For Jhair, however, the lure was the opportunity to study percussion with his idol, Pedro Martinez, the young Cuban percussionist who combined melody and rhythm in an unprecedented fashion. Under Pedro’s guidance, Jhair absorbed Cuban music and gained fluency on congas, bongos, timbales, and Bata. Subsequent lessons with Roberto Chino Bolaños readied him for his first significant American appearance.
Performing with group Kambalache Negro, Jhair Sala revealed a unique slant on soloing and grooving. His career took off and he received gigs with vocalists and instrumentalists from the likes of Eric Clapton, Bill Cosby, Desmond Child & Rouge, Patience Dabany,Ruben Blades, Ibboru,Steve Gadd,Issac Delgado, Andy Montañez,Oscar De Leon, Michael Stuart, Pedro “Pedrito” Martinez, Justo Betancourt, Xiomara Laugart, Osmany Paredes, John benitez,Jimmy Bosch, Frankie Vasquez, Ileana Santamaria, La Creacion, La Tematica, Adalberto Santiago and Ismael Miranda, Raulin Rosendo, Paquito Guzman and many others.
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, Eric Clapton, Patience Dabany, Cándido Camero,Steve Gadd, Osmany Paredes, Edmar Castañeda,Oscar De Leon, Mariela Valencia, Kambalache Negro, Afrodita, Yerba Buena, Ibboru, Fulanito, and R&B up and comer Jessy Boykins. Meanwhile he kept up a live presence with Pedrito Martinez Group, Ruben Blades,Isaac Delgado, Pupy y los que son son,Andy Montañes, Mariela Valencia,quinteros salsa project,Adalbert Santiago, Ismael Miranda, La Tematica. In addition, Jhair appeared on the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame show aside Desmond Child & Rouge. Jhair has been nominated to two American Grammys awards and won two straight years rising star Percussionist of the year for the Drum Magazine world wide.
Jhair Sala is comfortable in all Latin genres, attributing his versatality to a close study of such masters as Pedrito Martinez,Bobby Allende,luisito Quintero,Robert Quintero,Marc Quiñones, Chino Bolanos, Mariela Valencia, Carlos Sala, Lucho Gomez, and Juanchi Vasquez.
Whether it’s Salsa, Rumba, Salsa, Pop, Hip-Hop, R&B or Latin Jazz, Jhair keeps the tradition alive with a faultless groove, while injecting an edgy and contemporary feel.