Ruiz, Hilton , likes to call himself the original bebop Latin pianist, although he is much more; b. N.Y., May 29, 1952. Hilton Ruiz was something of a child prodigy, appearing on a local N.Y. television show, performing at Carnegie Recital Hall at the age of eight, and playing in an accordion symphony at nine. He studied classical piano as well as Latin, and received jazz guidance from the late Mary Lou Williams and Cedar Walton. By his early teens, he was working with a variety of Latin soul bands and, at age 14, recorded with a group called Ray Jay and the East Siders. Before he was 20, he had worked with Frank Foster, Joe Newman, Cal Massey, Freddie Hubbard, and Joe Henderson—an impressive list for an established player, a truly remarkable list for a relative newcomer. As an adult, he has also worked and recorded with Rahsann Roland Kirk, Pharoah Sanders, and Charles Mingus. His own recordings have touched all bases—from straight-ahead funk to Latin soul—in part reflecting a peripatetic lifestyle that has taken him on tours to virtually every part of the world.
Manhattan Mambo (1992); Heroes (1994); Hands on Percussion (1995); Piano Man (1995); Island Eyes (1997).