Hilton Ruiz

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Hilton Ruiz
Hilton Ruiz.jpg
Hilton Ruiz in November 1976
Background information
Born(1952-05-29)May 29, 1952
New York City
DiedJune 6, 2006(2006-06-06) (aged 54)
New Orleans
Genres Jazz
Years active1960–2006
Associated acts Roland Kirk, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria

Hilton Ruiz (May 29, 1952 – June 6, 2006) was an American jazz pianist in the Afro-Cuban jazz mold, but was also a talented bebop player. He was of Puerto Rican descent.



Born in New York City, Ruiz began playing piano at the age of five after being inspired by Duke Ellington. [1] At the age of eight he performed Mozart at Carnegie Hall. [2]

In high school Ruiz studied jazz piano with Mary Lou Williams. In 1973 he was a sideman for Roland Kirk, then later for Clark Terry. He also worked with Betty Carter, Tito Puente, and Mongo Santamaría. He co-wrote a music instruction book, Jazz and How to Play It. [3] He appeared on the soundtrack to Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors . [4]

On May 19, 2006, Ruiz was found unconscious on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, where he had gone to shoot a video to promote a recently recorded project with M27 Records benefiting the victims of Hurricane Katrina entitled "Goin' Back to New Orleans". The police filed a report that he had injured himself in an accidental fall. Ruiz was hospitalized in a coma [5] and died without regaining consciousness a week after his 54th birthday. Ruiz was a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey. [4]

He was buried at Saint Raymond's Cemetery in New York City.


As leader

As sideman

With Paquito D'Rivera

With Greg Abate

With Afro Blue Band

With George Coleman

With Art Davis

With Chico Freeman

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Rahsaan Roland Kirk

With Abbey Lincoln

With Tisziji Munoz

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<i>Steppin Into Beauty</i> 1982 studio album by Hilton Ruiz Trio / Quintet

Steppin' Into Beauty is an album by pianist Hilton Ruiz collecting performances recorded in 1977 at the sessions that produced Excition and New York Hilton which was released on the Danish label SteepleChase in 1982.

<i>Rhythm in the House</i> 1998 studio album by Hilton Ruiz with Tito Puente

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  1. Lloyd, Robin. "The sad and mysterious death of Hilton Ruiz" . Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  2. Lloyd, Robin (8 November 2012). "The sad and mysterious death of Hilton Ruiz". KPLU. Archived from the original on 22 August 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  3. "Bradley's Jazz and How to Play It, Book 1: : Hilton Ruiz". www.alfred.com. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  4. 1 2 Keepnews, Peter (7 June 2006). "Hilton Ruiz, 54, Pianist Fluent in Jazz and Latin Rhythms, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  5. World Music Central News Department (24 May 2006). "Latin Jazz Pianist Hilton Ruiz in a Coma | World Music Central.org". World Music Central.