Jazzman Hilton Ruiz has died from complications following an accident in New Orleans. Ruiz had turned 54 barely a week ago.

Jazzman Hilton Ruiz has died from complications following an accident in New Orleans. Ruiz had turned 54 barely a week ago.

A native of Teaneck, N.J., Ruiz was widely recognized as one of the most accomplished pianists in the contemporary Latin jazz world, as versatile with bop and stride as he was with Afro-Cuban music.

Aside from countless collaborative albums with the likes of Tito Puente, Freddie Hubbard and Mongo Santamaria, Ruiz also released more than 20 solo albums, his most recent being 2005's "Homenaje a Puente."

Ruiz passed away this morning (June 6) at East Jefferson General Hospital. Ruiz, who had recorded a benefit album for New Orleans residents in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, flew to the city May 18 with Marco Matute, a producer for the M27 World label, to shoot a companion video.

The next night, under circumstances that are still under investigation, he was admitted in a coma to intensive care with a fractured skull and trauma to his face. There have been conflicting stories about the cause of the accident, with some attributing it to a fall, and others to a beating.

Plans were underway to hold a concert tonight to raise funds for Ruiz's recovery. In a bittersweet turn, that benefit will now be a posthumous celebration of his life and music, with funds helping to pay for Ruiz's funeral expenses.

The benefit will take place tonight at LQ's in Manhattan. Guest performers include Zon del Barrio, Ivan Renta, Frankie Vasquez and Willie Martinez & La Familia Sextet. Viewing for Ruiz will be held June 13 at the Barrett Funeral Home in New York.