Hilton Ruiz

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El Camino (1988)
Hilton Ruiz in November 1976

Hilton Ruiz (May 29, 1952 – June 6, 2006) was an Nuyorican 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, at age eight he performed at Carnegie Hall. While still in his teens he gigged with Freddie Hubbard, Joe Newman and others. Later, he was Roland Kirk's main pianist from 1974 to 1977 and was featured on such records as The Case of the 3 Sided Dream in Audio Color and The Return of the 5000 Lb. Man. Ruiz also recorded several solo albums between the 1980s and 2000s.

On May 19, 2006, Ruiz was found unconscious on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, where he had gone to promote a CD benefiting the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The police filed a report that he had injured himself in an accidental fall. Ruiz was hospitalized in a coma[1] and died without regaining consciousness a week after his 54th birthday. Ruiz was a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey.[2]

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


As leader[edit]

  • 1975 Piano Man
  • 1977 Excition
  • 1977 Steppin' Into Beauty
  • 1981 The People's Music "Live at Jazz Unité, vol 1" (Jazz Unité 103)
  • 1981 Green Street "Live at Jazz Unité, vol 2" (Jazz Unité 104)
  • 1987 Something Grand
  • 1988 El Camino
  • 1989 Strut
  • 1990 Doin' It Right
  • 1991 A Moment's Notice
  • 1992 Manhattan Mambo
  • 1993 Heroes
  • 1994 Hands on Percussion
  • 1997 Island Eyes
  • 1998 Rhythm in the House
  • 2003 Enchantment
  • 2004 New York Story
  • 2005 Steppin' With TP - Dedicated to Tito Puente

As sideman[edit]

With Greg Abate

  • Horace is Here: A Tribute to Horace Silver (2004)

With Afro Blue Band

  • Impressions (1995)

With George Coleman

With Art Davis

  • Reemergence (1980)

With Chico Freeman

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Rahsaan Roland Kirk

With Abbey Lincoln

  • Golden Lady (1980)

With Tisziji Munoz

  • Presence of Truth (1999)


  1. ^ "Latin Jazz Pianist Hilton Ruiz in a Coma", WMC_News Dept, May 24, 2006.
  2. ^ Keepnews, Peter. "Hilton Ruiz, 54, Pianist Fluent In Jazz and Latin Rhythms", The New York Times, June 7, 2006. Accessed November 4, 2007. "Hilton Ruiz, a versatile and prolific pianist equally at home in the worlds of modern jazz and Latin music, died yesterday in New Orleans. He was 54 and lived in Teaneck, N.J."

External links[edit]