Hilton Ruiz

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Hilton Ruiz
Hilton Ruiz in November 1976
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
Years active1960–2006

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[edit]

  • 1975 Piano Man (SteepleChase)
  • 1977 Excition (SteepleChase)
  • 1977 New York Hilton (SteepleChase)
  • 1977 Steppin' Into Beauty (SteepleChase) released 1982
  • 1981 Live at Jazz Unitè (Jazz Unite)
  • 1984 Cross Currents (Vintage Jazz)
  • 1988 El Camino (The Road) (Novus)
  • 1989 Strut (Novus)
  • 1989 Doin' It Right (Novus)
  • 1991 A Moment's Notice (Novus)
  • 1992 Manhattan Mambo (Telarc)
  • 1992 Live at Birdland (Candid)
  • 1993 Heroes (Telarc)
  • 1995 Hands on Percussion (TropiJazz/RMM)
  • 1997 Island Eyes (TropiJazz/RMM)
  • 1998 Rhythm in the House (TropiJazz/RMM)
  • 2003 Hilton Ruiz Songbook (Hilton Ruiz Music)
  • 2003 Enchantment (Arabesque)
  • 2004 A New York Story Hilton Ruiz Music
  • 2005 Steppin' with T.P.- dedicated to Tito Puente M27 Records

As sideman[edit]

With Paquito D'Rivera

  • Paquito Blowin (1981)

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. ^ 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. ^ a b 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.

External links[edit]