Born in Panama, Perez, at age three, started his musical studies with his father, a bandleader and singer. By age ten, he was studying the European classical piano repertoire at Panama's National Conservatory of Music. After receiving his bachelor's degree in electronics in Panama, he moved to the United States and studied jazz composition at the presigious Berklee College of Music.
In 1933, Perez turned his focus to his own ensembles and recording projects, releasing eight albums as a leader earning Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations for Central Avenue, Motherland, and Across the Cystal Sea. As a composer, he has been commissioned by the Lincoln Center in New York City, the Chicago Jazz Festival, and the Imani Winds Quintet, among others.