Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Ruiz, Otmaro, keyboardist, composer; b. Caracas, Venezuela, 27 June 1964. His parents, Oscar Ruiz (b.1930) and Omaira Prado (b.1935) are both physicians and still live in Venezuela. His sister, Orlena (b.1969) is a Music Educator and currently lives in Puerto Rico.
Otmaro began his musical studies at the age of eight, at the "Juan Manuel Olivares" Conservatory, where he attended academic classes which covered: theory, harmony, ear training, history & aesthetics, and analysis. This included eight years of Classical Guitar studies with professor Jose Maria Verdu and Complementary Piano with professors Atilio Ferraro & Cristina Assai. At the same time, he studied Pop and Classical Organ (with professors Hector Velazquez, Jaime Flores, Guillermo Vrvicky, Jose Penin), and pursued a scientific career as a biologist at "Simon Bolivar University" , while he was exposed to other artistic activities such as drawing and acting. In 1980, Otmaro had his first professional work as a keyboard player for "Top 40" bands, and then, three years later, he decided to focus entirely on music. He became a full-time piano/keyboard player, and, in doing so, he abandoned Biological Sciences, just two years shy of attaining his degree; and left behind the world of the classical guitar. It was during the year, 1983, that Otmaro Ruiz became part of the very small elite of recording and touring musicians working with the most prominent Venezuelan artists, including: Soledad Bravo, Guillermo Davila, Yordano, Ilan Chester, Frank Quintero, El Trabuco Venezolano de Alberto Naranjo, La Seccion Ritmica de Caracas and his own band, Contrastes, with Aaron Serfaty, Eddy Perez & Rafael Rodriguez. He also worked with International Jazz artists, visiting his country, such as: Jeff Berlin, Nat Adderley, Ted Curson, Thomas Chapin, and Eddie Bert. In 1986, in conjunction with his performing career, Otmaro joined the TV & Radio Jingle production companies, "Musica & Letra" with partner/mentor Jesus Sanoja. This was to become a most important ingredient in his development as a composer, arranger and producer. His association with that company lasted for three years, which included daily recordings, but eventually Otmaro knew that it was time to move on and pursue new professional goals. In 1989, with partial financial aid from the Ministry of Culture (CONAC), he moved to Los Angeles,
California, where he culminated his academic training at the California Institute of the Arts (CALARTS), receiving a Master Degree in Jazz Performance (1993), studying with professors David Roitstein, James Newton, Paul Novros, Charlie Haden, Alfred & Kobla Lapzecko, and Amiya Dasgupta. While attending CALARTS, Otmaro had the opportunity to perform and interact with many visiting artists but, it was his association with drummer/percussionist, Alex Acuna that introduced him to the very select circle of musicians in Los Angeles, including Justo Almario and Abraham Laboriel. He's also studied music theory- Solfeggio with Prof. Maria Josefina Martinez, Harmony I, II, III, IV (Prof. Violeta Lares, Tiero Pezutti) and Music History, Aesthetics-Analysis with Prof. Boris Serdoz (1972-81). He's studied piano at the California Institute of the Arts. Prof. David Roitstein, Prof. Bryan Pezzone, Prof. Vicky Ray (1989-93), at "Juan Manuel Olivares" Conservatory with Prof. Atilio Ferraro, Prof.Cristina Assai (1974-79), and has had private tutoring with Prof. Terry Trotter, Prof. Gerry Weill, Prof Olegario Diaz, and Prof. Estrella Mendoza. For classical organ, he's had private tutoring with Prof. Jose Penin. For pop organ, he studied with Prof. Hector Velazquez, Jaime Flores, Guillermo Vrvicky (1975-79). For classical guitar, he studied at "Juan Manuel Olivares" Conservatory with Prof. Jose Maria Verdu (1974-83) and had private tutoring with Prof. Romulo Lazarde (1977). Since his U.S. professional start in 1991, Otmaro Ruiz has performed in virtually every major International Jazz Festival, being part of the most diverse musical situations, ranging from straight-ahead jazz artists (Dianne Reeves, Frank Morgan, Carl Saunders and Red Holloway...) to Pop-Rock (Gino Vannelli, Robbie Robertson, Jon Anderson, Santana...), from authentic Salsa & Afro-Cuban Jazz (Arturo Sandoval, Tito Puente, and Tolu...) to Fusion (such as John McLaughlin, Frank Gambale, Alain Caron, and "Jing Chi" which features: Robben Ford, Jimmy Haslip & Vinnie Colaiuta....).
He's been a Keyboard Instructor at Pasadena International Music Academy (P.I.M.A.), Keyboard Theory Instructor at Los Angeles Music Academy (L.A.M.A.), Jazz Piano instructor at Plaza de la Raza Community Arts Partnership program, Teacher Assistant (CALARTS), and Instructor in several seminars at Musicians Institute, LAMA, CSUN, Cal State Pomona. He's taught Jazz Piano Master classes at the Javeriana University (Bogota, Colombia), National Library (Caracas, Venezuela), Arts Conservatory of Tahiti (French Polynesia), Conservatory of Pescara (Italy) and performed in demonstration seminars for several Musical Instruments Manufacturers such as Korg & GEM at N.A.M.M. shows, Musik Messe (Frankfurt, Germany) and Paris Musicmania as well as Concert/Clinics for The Da Camera Society (Los Angeles) and Thelonious Monk Institute (hosted by Peter Erskine). Presently, Otmaro teaches privately, and conducts Jazz Piano seminars and workshops in the United States and around the world, still finding time for recording sessions in Los Angeles, and leading his own trio which includes: Jimmy Branly on drums and Chris Colangelo on bass. He works in his own pre-production/project studio in Santa Clarita, California, where he lives with his wife Naomi and daughter Maya (b.2000).
Otmaro Ruiz Plays Ryuichi Sakamoto (1992); Distant Friends (1993); Nothing To Hide (1996); Benn Clatworthy, Chis Colangelo, Jim Paxson & Otmaro Ruiz: LIVE (2004)
Gonzalo Mico: Cinemascope (1982); Robert Valerio: Dulce Sentimiento (1983), Recuerdos (1983); Frank Quintero: A Traves de Mis Ojos (1984); Guillermo Carrasco: Visual (1987); Soledad Bravo: Soledad Bravo en Concierto (1988); Federico Britos Ruiz: Conexion Jazz (1988); Aldemaro Romero: Como de Costumbre (1989); Frank Quintero: Buscando Soles (1989); Ilan Chester: Ilan en Vivo (1989); Alex Acuna & The Unknowns: Thinking of You (1991); Ricky Encarnacion: One People, One Country, One Music (1991); Chester Thompson: Joyful Noise (1991); Munyungo Jackson: Munyungo (1991); CalArts Jazz Ensemble: (1991); CalArts Jazz Ensemble : (1992); Justo Almario: Heritage (1992); Frank Quintero: Agua Dulce (1992); Passion & Grace: Passport (1992); Manatsuno Kajitsu: LA Workshop (1992); Luis Bonilla Latin Jazz...: Pasos Gigantes (1992); Juan Carlos Quintero: Through the Winds (1992); El Trabuco Venezolano: Imagen Latina (1992); CalArts Jazz Ensemble: (1993); Preston Reeds : Border Towns (1993); Yoshio Maki: Over The Streams (1993); Korekata Hirokuni: Korekata (1993); Victor Cuica: Noctambulo (1993); Arturo Sandoval: Dreams Come True (1993); Richie Zellon: Cafe Con Leche (1993); Hirokuni Matsuda: Alone 1/2 (1994); Frank Gambale: Passages (1994); Yoshio Maki: Nocturne (1995); Gary Meek: Live at the Ronnie Scotts (1995); Gary Meek: Good Friends (1995); Frank Gambale: Thinking out Loud (1995); Arturo Sandoval: Arturo Sandoval & The Latin Train (1995); Various Artists: I Got No Kick Against Modern Jazz (1995); Yoshiyuki Sahashi: Soundtrack of Kekkon Shiyouyo (1996); Alain Caron: Play (1996); Herb Alpert: Passion Dance (1997); Pedro Eustache: Strive for Higher Realities (1997); Paul Hanson: Astro Boy Blues (1997); Hideaki Tokunaga: Wind Told Me (1997); Various Artists: Latin Jazz Con Gusto (1997); Richie Gajate Garcia: Mis Tres Hijos (1998); Tolu: Rumbero's Poetry (1998); Bruce Sanders: Likely Story (1998); Khana: Attitude (1998); Richard Lamanna: Richard Lamanna and The Last Word (1998); Ignacio Izcaray: Cada Piano con su Tema (1998); Larry Steen: First Move (1998); Frank Quintero: Bien (1999); Various Artists: Lightning over the River: The... (1999); Richard Lamanna & The Last Word: Introspective (2000); Jimmy Branly: Overdubbs (2000); Jimmy Haslip: Red Heat (2000); Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars,... (2000); John McLaughlin: Heart of Things Live in Paris (2000); Dianne Reeves: In the Moment: Live in Concert (2000) Willie & Lobo: Siete (2000); Various Artists: Trane Time (2000); Ofelia Del Rosal: Aldemareando (2001); Alex Acuna: Alex Acuna y su Acuarela de Tambores (2001); David Anderson: This Is My Real Job (2001); Eliseo: Prophecy (2001); Alain Caron: Call Me Al (2001); Juan Carlos Quintero: Los Musicos (2001); Richi Gajate Garcia: Entre Amigos (2002); Hubert Laws: Baila Cinderella (2002); Dianne Reeves: Best of Dianne Reeves (2002); Juan Carlos Quintero : Medellin (2003 ); Maurizio Rolli: Archivi Sonori (2003); Gabriela Anders: (2003); Steve Cole (2003); "Jing Chi" Live (2003); Akira Jimbo & Brian Bromberg: Brombo! JB Project (2003); Alex Acuna & The Unkonwns: No Accent (2004); R.A.R.E. (Alex Acuna, Maurizio Rolli, Gianlucca Esposito and Otmaro Ruiz): R.A.R.E. (2004); Michael James Turre: Compositions (2004); Akira Jimbo & Brian Bromberg: Brombo II ! JB Project (2004)
Film and video:
Dave Weckl (2 DCI videos as a performer and co-writer), Weckl, Patitucci & Stern. DCI instructional tape
4 years in Musical Production for TV, radio, and movie commercials for major advertising companies.
Also since 1984 has played keyboards on hundreds of jingles (for Coca-cola, General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Mennen and many others leading products).
Film Soundtrack credits as Composer-Producer include California Myth directed by Michell Katz, award winning documentary 'Voces De Los Orishas by Alvaro Perez, Unas Son De Amor...' by Haydee Ascanio, Multi-award winning animation Chato & The Party Animals, The Pot That Juan Built; experimental animation films by Isabel Herguera and Ricardo Barahona.
1st. Prize (Semi- pro, Junior and Children categories) YAMAHA National Electronic Organ Contest (1978,1977 and 1976, respectively), 3rd. Prize children category (1975) Caracas, Venezuela; 2nd. Prize in the "1st. Freedom Song Festival" as a composer (1979) Caracas, Venezuela.
Diploma from The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for participation as
Pianist/Keyboardist in Dianne Reeve's GRAMMY award winning Live recording "In The Moment" (2000);
Special Award International Exposure from the Venezuelan National Artist Institute (for outstanding career in a foreign country)
2 ANDA (National Association of Advertising Companies) awards for TV Jingles
2004 Audie Award (in the children category), CINE Golden Eagle and the Bronze Remi at the 2004 Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival for Weston Woods Studios Chato & The Party Animals.