We[base ‘]ve received and urgent appeal for financial assistance from the family of pianist Hilton Ruiz who remains in a coma in a New Orleans hospital.

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 there.

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[base ‘]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 condition.

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 manager.

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” soundtrack.

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

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