The Jazzcat


by on Jun.06, 2006, under News


Pianist Hilton Ruiz Passes this Morning

Latin music and Jazz artists get together for Hilton



/June 14, 2006/ —

Family, friends and fans of Hilton Ruiz gathered
yesterday at the Hell's

Kitchen church Sacred Heart of Jesus for a mass
held in his honor.



the jazz pianist's body was still in New Orleans*, his death shrouded

mystery, and a 20-member Congressional Hispanic Caucus is calling on

city's mayor, Ray Nagin, to investigate the musician's death.
(*Hilton's body was finally returned home and after a funeral in

Manhattan,was buried today July 15th in the same cemetery as his mother in

the Bronx)
“This was a very special and gifted man whose life was cut

short … I
really feel there is a cover-up …” said an outraged Aurora

herself a musician, who attended the mass.

“Nydia [Velazquez]

and I were concerned that not enough was known about
the circumstances

surrounding the death of Hilton,” said Congressman
José Serrano, who together

with the Brooklyn representative penned a
letter to the mayor of New Orleans

calling for an official inquiry.


“There was talk about whether he was

attacked and it's important for
everybody to know what happened,” added the

Bronx congressman.

Ruiz, 54, one of the most versatile and gifted

pianists of his
generation, died on June 6 after a two-week coma which New

Police Department reported was caused by a fall on a sidewalk – a

Ruiz's family and friends are not ready to believe.


The New York

born-and-raised musician traveled to New Orleans on May 18
to record a video

for his upcoming CD, which was to be dedicated to the
victims of Hurricane


What happened next is a mystery.

In the early hours of

May 19, Ruiz was found unconscious, his skull
fractured, lying in a pool of

blood outside a Bourbon Street bar.


Ruiz's wife, Aida, says that she was

shown a video by New Orleans
authorities where she saw Hilton walking into

the frame, wobbling and
falling on the concrete.

“We see him fall, but

he already looked bruised,” said Aida, who has
more questions than



“As of today, the investigations into his fall have not been

Reports from the New Orleans police indicated that the cause of

death was due to a fall; however, early reports stated that Mr.

might have been beaten,” reads the letter to Mayor Nagin by the

of Congress.

A spokesman for Mayor Nagin says the mayor was

traveling and unavailable
for comment.


Meanwhile, a second mass will

be held tomorrow at the church where Ruiz
was an altar boy.

And one

fan at the mass yesterday vowed to be there again when his body
– due to

arrive today – is to be properly viewed.


“For Hilton to dedicate the CD

to the victims of Katrina and become a
victim himself. .. There is a certain

irony in that, and it's very
devastating to all of us who loved him and his

music,” said Flores.

Hilton Ruiz mass, tomorrow at 10 a.m., Sacred Heart

of Jesus, 451 W. 51
St., between Ninth and Tenth avenues.

New York


OK! Lets get on this for Hilton Ruiz…
*Last week,

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez along with all of the members of the Congressional

Hispanic Caucas officially requested the office of Mayor Ray Nagin to open an

investigation and for his office to report directly back to them.

What we need to do is contact the members of the Congressional Hispanic

Caucus and demand that they petition the The US Department of Justice to open an

official investigation citing the civil rights violations which lead to the

death of Hilton Ruiz.

You can contact the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at:
1609 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-2410
(202) 225-0027
Here is the list of the members and their congressional districts.


Grace Flores Napolitano (CA-38)

Joe Baca


Raúl Grijalva (AZ-7)


Roybal-Allard (CA-34)

Xavier Becerra (CA-31)


Cardoza (CA-18)
Jim Costa (CA-20)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Charles A.

Gonzalez (TX-20)

Luis V. Gutierrez (IL-4)

Rubén Hinojosa


Robert Menendez (NJ-13)

Solomon Ortiz (TX-27)


Pastor (AZ-4)

Silvestre Reyes (TX-16)

John Salazar (CO-3)

T. Sánchez (CA-39)
Loretta Sanchez (CA-47)

José Serrano


Hilda Solis (CA-32)
Nydia Velázquez (NY-12)

Kudos to

Congresswoman Velazquez and Congressman Jose Serrano for being on top of this

from early on.




Peace and Blessings:


PS. Please alert your congressmen, representatives in your local

government, your family and your friends to raise their voices and to write

letters and e-mails to address this atrocity, a practice that possibly been

going on in that city for a long time.

Important numbers and addresses:
Office of the Governor
Attn: Constituent

P.O. Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004

Telephone Numbers:

or 225-342-7015
Facsimile: 225-342-7099


Office of the Mayor:
Mayor C. Ray Nagin
504 569 2900
Jazz radio in New Orleans: WWNO/KTLN Radio: 504 280 7000; e-mails to news





New York, NY –June 6, 2006–     Famed Puerto Rican/New

York Composer, Pianist and Jazz musician Hilton Ruiz passed away this

morning at 3:51 a.m. at the East Jefferson General Hospital, in New

Orleans, Louisiana. He was still on life support when he peacefully

expired.  His daughter and wife, both named Aida, were by his side.


Hilton Ruiz had been in a coma at the New Orleans hospital Intensive

Care Unit with severe trauma to the face and a fractured skull. The

circumstances surrounding this tragic incident are under investigation

by the New Orleans Police Department.

In the meanwhile, Ruiz’ family and friends will celebrate his life and

music in a special, after-work benefit jam session will be held in

Hilton Ruiz’ honor to assist the family with the medical and now

funeral expenses. Confirmed guest performers include Zon del Barrio (7 pm) joined by saxophonist Ivan Renta & vocalist Frankie Vasquez; Chembo Corniel and Chaworo (9 pm) and Willie Martinez & “La Familia Sextet” (10 pm). Hilton Ruiz’ music and videos will be playing.

WHEN/WHERE:    Tuesday June 6, 2006 @ 6 p.m. – 12 midnight  Doors Open @ 5 p.m.



    511 Lexington Avenue (between 48th & 47th Streets)

                  New York, NY

Suggested donation: $20

Other confirmed guest artists include the following:

Luisito Quintero * Andrea Brachfeld * Robert Glasper,* Annette

Aguilar * Andy Gonzalez * Grady Tate * Papo Vasquez * Craig Harris *

Grady Tate * Pete Nader * Sweet Sue Terry * Mark Whitfield * Avery

Sharpe * Terry Burrus * Ben Lapidus * Bobby Sanabria * Dario Boente *

Bill Sims, Jr. * Ray Mantilla * Chaney Sims * Norman Hedman * Gary

Bartz  * Poet Papoleto


Hilton Ruiz’ music and videos will be playing.

Musicians wishing to participate in “A Benefit Jam Session for Hilton

Ruiz” should call Event organizer Eddie Rodriguez at 917-678-6695 or

email Eddie at to be placed on the Musicians

Guest list.

“This is a very sad day for Latin and jazz music” said promoter Eddie

Rodriguez. The question remains, how did something like this happen to

an Internationally known jazz artist in the City where Jazz was born? 

We are urging all those who care to write letters to the Mayor of New


Ray Nagin

Office of the Mayor

1300 Perdido St. #2E10

New Orleans, LA

504-658-4900 or 504-658-0900

or email Sally Forman at:

This event will help pay for the medical expenses as well as funeral

and burial costs involved with transporting Hilton to New York.


Hilton Ruiz will be viewed on Monday, June 13, 2006 at the Barrett

Funeral Home located at 424 West 51st Street & Ninth Avenue. 


Born in New York City on May 29, 1952, Ruiz was a child prodigy,

appearing on the Sandy Becker television show, performing at Carnegie

Recital Hall at the age of eight, and playing in an accordion symphony

at nine. Well-trained in all areas, he studied classical piano as well

as Latin and received jazz guidance from the great Mary Lou Williams.

“I was pretty lucky,” he says, “in being exposed to a lot of different

kinds of music, and studying them with good teachers.”

By his early teens, Ruiz was working with a variety of Latin soul bands

and, at age 14, recorded with a group called Ray Jay and the East

Siders. But jazz was always close to his heart, and his obviously

superlative improvisational skills quickly opened doors. Before he was

twenty, Ruiz had worked with Frank Foster, Joe Newman, Cal Massey,

Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson—an impressive list for an established

player, a remarkable list for a relative newcomer. Rahsaan Roland Kirk,

Freddie Hubbard, Tito Puente, Clark Terry, Ismael Rivera, Mongo

Santamaria, George Coleman and so many others. He was a Student of the

Great Jazz Master, Mary Lou Williams.

A short discography includes:

2005 Tribute to Puente

2003 Enchantment

1997 Island Eyes

1994 Hands on Percussion

1993 Heroes

1993 Excitation

1992 Manhattan Mambo

1992 Live at Birdland

1991 A Moment's Notice

1989 Doin' It Right

1988 El Camino [The Road]

1988 Strut

1986 Something Grand

1984 Cross Currents

1981 Live at Jazz Unite

1977 New York Hilton

1977 Steppin' Into Beauty

1976 Rhythm in the House

1975 Piano Man

This event is sponsored by LQ’s and Latin Works Music.

All donations are to be made payable to Aida Ruiz (check preferred).  

For further information call: Latin Works Music 917-678-6695  


May 27, 2006

We have just been informed by the Ruiz Family that a special Recovery

Fund has been set up to accept checks for financial assistance…

Please send all checks to:

Joel Chriss & Co.

300 Mercer Street

NY, NY 10003

All checks should be made out to Joel Chriss & Co. and marked @ the bottom of the check Hilton Ruiz Recovery Fund

No amount is too small and all is much appreciated. 

At this time we have no new updates on Hilton’s condition. He remains

in a coma with his family by his side.  Your prayers and contributions

are greatly appreciated.


May 26, 2006

New Reports regarding the investigation of Hilton Ruiz

We’ve received and urgent appeal for financial assistance from the

family of pianist Hilton Ruiz who remains in a coma in a New Orleans


Please wire transfer money to the below bank account. She wants people

to call her when they have sent something so she will know that it's


Aida Ruiz

Chase Bank

ACCT #: 711211359

ROUTING # 065400137

Her Phone # 201-925-6416 (leave message if she doesn't answer)

Thanks to all for your generosity in this time of need for the Ruiz family.

Jim Eigo

Jazz Promo Services


Here is the most recent news story from today’s Times Picayune.

 Ruiz's relatives are satisfied with the New Orleans Police

Department's account of the incident as an accident, said Mary Howell,

a local lawyer and spokeswoman for the Ruiz family.

 “Mr. Ruiz was on Bourbon Street and stumbled while walking across the

street, hitting his face on the side of the curb,” NOPD spokeswoman

Bambi Hall said.

 “The evidence is clear. No one beat him, no one robbed him and there was no criminal act whatsoever,” Hall said.



For nearly a week, rumors that the famed jazzman was beaten after

leaving a Bourbon Street bar had circulated from coast to coast.

Newspaper reports quoted family and friends questioning police reports

that Ruiz stumbled and fell, hitting his head.

 “There were a lot of different accounts that the family investigated,”

Howell said Thursday. “The family is now convinced that this was an

accident, a tragic accident.”

 Howell said the family is “very appreciative” of the efforts shown by

NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley in getting to the bottom of Ruiz's



 Ruiz, whose 54th birthday is Monday, was found unconscious and bleeding May 19 about 4:30 a.m.

 Ruiz's heart stopped on the way to the hospital, but he was

resuscitated, according to Joel Chriss, Ruiz's longtime friend and


 Howell said Ruiz remained in critical condition Thursday night at East

Jefferson General Hospital. Ruiz, of Teaneck, N.J., was in the city for

radio and television interviews promoting a pending CD showcasing New

Orleans music, Chriss said.

 Ruiz is renowned in jazz circles for his Afro-Cuban jazz and bop

music. His teachers included jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou

Williams, and he spent four years working with saxophone player Rahsaan

Roland Kirk.


 “I'm incredibly saddened,” Chriss said. “But I'm trying to stay

positive. We all know the reality may not turn out well. I know he

wanted to live long and play music until he was an old man. The fact

that that may not happen is very sad.”

 The accident has taken an emotional toll on the family, especially on

Ruiz's ex-wife who is his best friend, Chriss said. Chriss said she's

“a mess” right now and “that no one in the world knows either one of

them better than the other.” Those close to Ruiz said they're hoping

the beat will go on for the one-time child prodigy, who at 8 years old

played a gig at Carnegie Recital Hall.

 Ruiz was performing with Latin groups in his early teens. His first

recording, at age 14, was with a group called Ray Jay and the East

Siders. While still in his teens, Ruiz worked with tenor saxophonists

Frank Foster and Joe Henderson and trumpeters Joe Newman, Freddie

Hubbard and Cal Massey.



The many musicians with whom he has since worked have included Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Mingus.

 He was among musicians featured on the 1997 video “The Best of Latin

Jazz,” and his song “Something Grand” is part of the “American Beauty”


 “We're all praying for a miracle,” Chriss said. “Where there is breath there is hope.”

Trymaine Lee can be reached at or (504)-826-3301.


This is the first report that came out about Hilton

greetings all,

sorry to be bringer of such news…

Hilton Ruiz is in a New Orleans

hospital in a coma.  I need to send out

an email message to be passed on telling people what has happened and

to ask for everyone's prayers and healing thoughts.

He has been in hospital five days now… that would be he went in on

Friday, 19 May.  He was punched hard in the face, all his face bones

were broken, he collapsed, was taken in ambulance to hospital, on route

he had cardiac arrest…..  Hilton is in a coma, on life support in

intensive care unit of a New Orleans

hospital.  The condition is

extremely serious.  The doctors are taking very good care of him.


I have spoken to Aida his wife, and to Aida his daughter, who are both

there with him, by his

side, holding his hand, speaking to him, pouring out their love and

asking him to pull through.  Both Aida's ask that everyone pray for

Hilton's recovery.  We also ask that prayers be for them, sending them

strength and courage for all they are going through.  Send LOVE, the

greatest healer of all.

If anyone wants to get in touch with me, that is fine.  I will do my

best to respond.

my email:


On Wednesday, 17 May, here in New York City,

Hilton had just finished a

recording dedicated to and to benefit the musicians and people of New

Orleans, who had suffered so terribly from the effects

of Hurricaine

Katrina last year.  He then flew down to New Orleans to make a

promotion video for the recording.  We are all truly shocked and

devastated at learning that he is now in such a dire situation.

Let us let the universe know that we believe Hilton is strong and will

soon be back in New York City and at his home in New Jersey surrounded

by the many who love and cherish him.

peace and harmony through music,

Katherine Gogel-Stubblefield

we are eternally grateful to Jazz Foundation 




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