Hilton Ruiz was a jazz pianist and composer
trained in classical music as well. The
internationally-known jazz headliner was
equally at home playing blues, boogie-woogie,
bop, Afro-Cuban, stride, or Latin.
Biographical fast facts
Date and place of birth: May 29, 1952, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Date, time, place and cause of death: June 6, 2006, at 3:51 a.m.,
East Jefferson General Hospital, 4200 Houma Blvd., Metairie,
near New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A. * (Injuries sustained in a fall)
Child: Aida (pronounced "Ida") - (daughter)
Burial site: Saint Raymond's Cemetery, 2600 Lafayette Avenue, Bronx, New York, U.S.A.
A child prodigy, Hilton Ruiz performed at
Carnegie Recital Hall at the age of eight.
While still in his early teens, Ruiz was
already performing with leading jazz artists
and would go on to play with some of the
biggest names in jazz, including Tito
Puente, Charles Mingus and Dizzy Gillespie.
Hilton was a headliner at various jazz
festivals, a member of the Latin Jazz
All-Stars and an internationally acclaimed
artist known for his improvisational
skills and extreme versatility. He performed
regularly in New York as the leader of both
a trio and quintet, and recorded dozens of
albums, including Enchantment (2003),
Steppin' Into Beauty (2000), Island Eyes (1997),
Hands on Percussion (1994), Excitation (1994),
Manhattan Mambo (1992), and Rhythm In The House
(1976). He was also the co-author of the
three-volume guide, Jazz and How to Play It.
He had been in New Orleans to shoot video
to go along with a Hurricane Katrina benefit
album of New Orleans music, when he stumbled
and fell, hitting his head on the side of a
curb outside a New Orleans nightclub on Bourbon
Street in the French Quarter, May 19th, 2006.
In the ambulance on the way to the hospital
he suffered a heart attack and fell into
a coma. He died of his injuries less than
3 weeks later, having never regained consciousness.
Ruiz was survived by his ex-wife and daughter,
both named Aida (pronounced "Ida").
Error correction or clarification
* Most early news reports claim Hilton Ruiz
died at "3:50 a.m." in "New Orleans." Not to be nitpicky,
but he died at exactly 3:51 a.m., at East Jefferson
General Hospital, which is in Metairie, just outside
of New Orleans.
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