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Pianist Hilton Ruiz in Critical Condition

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NEW ORLEANS -- Jazz pianist and composer Hilton Ruiz was in critical condition Wednesday, nearly a week after he was found on Bourbon Street with an unexplained skull fracture and broken bones in his face, according to his agent.

Ruiz, whose 54th birthday is next week, has been unconscious since he was found early Friday after leaving the Utopia bar, agent and manager Joel Chriss said from New York in a telephone interview.

Chriss said he was told that the initial police report said Ruiz had fallen, but added: “The doctors apparently said that's unlikely, given the nature of his injuries."

“One could easily draw the conclusion that he was attacked, though lawyers have asked us not to characterize it that way because we have no proof," Chriss said. “We have no suspect, no weapon."

Police spokesman Bob Young said Wednesday he had no information on Ruiz.

Keith Darcey, a spokesman for East Jefferson General Hospital, said Ruiz remained in critical condition Wednesday. Privacy rules kept the hospital from giving any details, he said.

Ruiz has performed on more than 500 recordings, including 30 as leader, according to his Web site. He was in New Orleans for radio and television interviews, Chriss said.
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