Pianist Hilton Ruiz was equally adept at post bop jazz and Afro Cuban jazz. He first recorded as a leader in the 70s and he was very successful until his untimely 2006 death. He was born May 29, 1952 in New York City. His parents were Puerto Rican immigrants. Ruiz started playing classical piano at age six. He played church organ and played Carnegie Hall at age eight. He studied jazz piano with legendary pianist Mary Lou Williams. As a teen, he played local clubs. Ruiz was pianist for Rahsaan Roland Kirk from 1974 to 1977. He recorded his first album as a leader in 1975 and then he signed with the Danish label Steeplechase in 1977. Most jazz fans probably became familiar with Ruiz in the 80s when he recorded several albums for the RCA owned jazz label Novus Records. The Ruiz composition Home Cookin' first appeared on the 1987 album Something Grand featuring Sam Rivers on sax. Unfortunately this album is out of print. Ruiz recorded five albums for Novus and left for Telarc in 1990. Manhattan Mambo was his first Telarc CD in 1992 and it's available at a budget price. Musicians are David Sanchez on tenor sax, Papo Vazquez on trombone, Charlie Sepulveda on trumpet, Andy Gonzalez on bass, Ignacio Berroa on drums and Giovanni Hidalgo and Joe Gonzalez on percussion. Ruiz recorded two CDs for Telarc and then recorded for the Puerto Rican label RMM. Things were going great for Ruiz when he died after a fall. He was in New Orleans promoting a Hurricane Katrina benefit CD when he was found unconscious on Bourbon Street. He was taken to hospital and Ruiz died on June 6, 2006 at age 54. Though police reported that it was an accidental death due to a fall, witnesses claim Ruiz was severely beaten. I doubt we'll ever know the truth. A sad and premature end to a great musician. Here's Hilton Ruiz with James Moody on sax, Mike Mossman on trumpet, David Friedman on vibes, Laszlo Attila and Snetberger Ferenc on guitar, Anthony Jackson on bass, Adam Cruise on drums and Horvath Kornel on percussion performing Home Cookin' in Budapest, Hungary 1992.