Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Jazz Pianist Hilton Ruiz in Critical Condition in New Orleans

Legendary jazz piano player Hilton Ruiz is in critical condition at East Jefferson hospital after sustaining serious injuries early Friday morning.

Ruiz reportedly arrived in New Orleans Thursday to work on a project related to an upcoming album. Accounts from family and associates say he was found on Bourbon Street around 2 a.m. Friday morning, bleeding badly and his face very disfigured. Reports say Ruiz still had his wallet, watch, and other personal items on him, so it appears he was not robbed.

Ruiz was admitted to East Jefferson hospital, though a time of admittance is not available. He remains in critical condition at the intensive care unit.

According to family, police reported Ruiz's injuries as the result of a fall, while medical examiners say he clearly received a blow to the face with a heavy, blunt object.

The musician's wife and daughter have come to New Orleans, and say they plan to pursue a private investigation.

Ruiz is known as one of the world's preeminent Afro-Cuban jazz players, as well as a strong bop player. He's played and studied with the likes of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Mary Lou Williams and more.


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