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Born in Havana, Jesús emigrated to the United States at a young age, living in New Orleans and Miami and earning the nickname of "el niño" (the kid) as he was usually the youngest member in every band he played. During the 1980s, his work with Los Angeles-based Orquesta Versalles (featuring composer and pianist La Palabra), was popular with dancers and cemented Pérez's credentials as a bandleader.

Since 1997, Pérez resides in Montreal; his knowledge of Cuban music has made him one of the hubs of the Canadian salsa scene. Outside of his bandleading and producing skills, Pérez also plays piano, flute, tres and percussion.

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