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Hilton Ruiz

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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