Otmaro Ruíz (born June 27, 1964 in Caracas, Venezuela) is a Venezuelan pianist, keyboardist, composer and arranger.
Ruíz began his formal musical studies at the age of eight on piano, classical guitar, harmony, history and aesthetics. He also was exposed to other artistic activities such as drawing and acting. At the same time, he studied organ and pursued a scientific career as a biologist at the Simón Bolívar University, but kept playing keyboards on the side, landing his first professional work in a pop group in 1980.
Decided to focus entirely on music, Ruíz dropped out of school in 1983, playing in his native Venezuela. He toured and recorded with local and visiting musicians, and also became a busy studio musician as a jingles composer and arranger.
In 1989 Ruíz moved to Los Angeles, California, where he finished his academic training at CalArts, obtaining a master's degree in jazz performance in 1993. He was also playing with percussionist Alex Acuña, appearing in two albums during the early 1990s. He later recorded with Arturo Sandoval, which was followed in 1996 by a world tour supporting Gino Vannelli. The rest of the decade, he worked with Jon Anderson, Robbie Robertson, Herb Alpert and John McLaughlin. In the new millennium, he has recorded and toured with Dianne Reeves, Frank Gambale, Alain Caron and Lee Ritenour.
Ruíz remains active up to the present day, generally recording and touring with L.A.-based groups and vocalists, and commanding his own projects.
He also participated in an international jazz-project "JB Project" with American bassist Brian Bromberg and Japanese drummer Akira Jimbo. They released three studio albums: Brombo (2003) and Brombo II (2004) and Brombo III (2017). Otmaro Ruiz has recorded Akira Jimbo's CDs projects for eleven consecutive years as member of his Trio/Quartet.
In 2012, Shepherd University (Cornel School of Contemporary Music) awarded Otmaro Ruiz with an “Honorary Doctorate in Music Arts”.
In 2016, Otmaro Ruiz was Nominated for Best Arrangement Instrumental & Vocals at the 58th Grammy Awards for his version of "Girl from Ipanema", part of his production "Catina DeLuna and Lado B Brazilian Project, featuring Otmaro Ruiz". This CD also got raving international reviews, including 4 stars by Downbeat Magazine and also was included in their issue Best of 2016.
Ruiz has worked extensively conducting workshops and lectures worldwide and was part pf the faculty of USC Thornton School of Music for 5 years. Currently, he is part of the Cornell School of Contemporary Music (at Shepherd University) faculty team which includes long time friends and collaborators Abe Laboriel and Jimmy Branly.
As a leader
- Otmaro Ruiz plays Ryuichi Sakamoto (MIDI Inc., 1991)
- Nothing to Hide (MMP Records, 1996)
- Distant Friends (MLP Records, 1997)
- "Latino" featuring Alex Acuña and Abe Laboriel (Pony Canyon Inc, 2005)
- Sojourn (Minina Music / Moondo Records, 2008)
- "Catina DeLuna and Lado B Brazilian Project" featuring Otmaro Ruiz (independent, 2015)
- Cinemascope - Gonzalo Micó (1983)
- En Vivo - Ilan Chester (1989)
- En Concierto - Soledad Bravo (1989)
- Thinking of You - Alex Acuña (1991)
- Imagen Latina - Alberto Naranjo (1992)
- Dream Come True - Arturo Sandoval (1993)
- Deseo - Jon Anderson (1994)
- Passages - Frank Gambale (1995)
- The Latin Train - Arturo Sandoval (1995)
- Si el Norte fuera el Sur - Ricardo Arjona (1996)
- Passion Dance - Herb Alpert (1997)
- Plomo Revienta - Desorden Público (1997)
- Strive for Higher Realities - Pedro Eustache (1997)
- Red Heat - Jimmy Haslip (2000)
- "The Heart of Things" Live in Paris - John McLaughlin (2000)
- Call Me Al - Alain Caron (2001)
- Baila Cinderella - Hubert Laws (2002)
- Jing Chi Live - Jing Chi (2003)
- TruANT - Alien Ant Farm (2003)
- Brombo - Brian Bromberg/Akira Jimbo (2003)
- Cancionero del Amor Puertorriqueño - Ilan Chester (2003)
- Brombo II - Brian Bromberg/Akira Jimbo (2004)
- Live in Montreal [DVD] - Dianne Reeves (2005)
- Aneurythms - Jeff Berlin (2006)
- Natural High - Frank Gambale (2006)
- Industrial Zen - John McLaughlin (2006)
- Music for Lovers - Dianne Reeves (2007)
- Flying Over Bridges - Ashley Maher (2007)
- Conversations - Alain Caron (2008)
- "Natural Selection" - Frank Gambale (2010)
- Born in the 80's - Hadrien Feraud (2015)
- Huey, Steve. "Otmaro Ruíz: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-10-30.