“I Make You Want to Move,” up for Best Latin Jazz Album, features drumming legend Giovanni Hidalgo and three other USF students
TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 7, 2015) – University of South Florida College of the Arts PhD candidate Jose Valentino Ruiz produced an album this year that has emerged as a 16th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards nominee for Best Latin Jazz Album.
Ruiz’s “I Make You Want to Move” features his group, the Latin Jazz Ensemble and the legendary percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo along with USF School of Music graduate student Giovanni Perez, freshman Jesse Pitts and fellow PhD student Bruno Miranda.
“What an honor and humbling feeling it is to be considered among the elite musicians of our society,” Ruiz said.
A multi-instrumentalist – flute, saxophone, bass, keyboards and percussion – Ruiz also played the roles of head producer, head engineer, composer, arranger and band leader, plus he sang, wrote the album notes and created the artwork for the cover. In addition, eight of the tracks are his original compositions while four were arranged by him.
Ruiz produced and engineered the album using the software program GarageBand and Logic Pro X, while at home, the headquarters for his Crossmatch Vamp Studios, which he describes as essentially his bedroom and living room. The multi-faceted artist also has a distribution company JVR Music Works, Inc.
“Through the wonders of technology, the 15 musicians involved were able to record their parts in the comfort of their own homes,” Ruiz said. This included the GRAMMY-winning Hidalgo and four-time GRAMMY-winner, engineer Carlson Barrios.
Family members were involved as well, including his sister, vocalist Christina Valerie Stigle.
“What brings me the most joy is that my father (Valentin ‘Tito’ Ruiz), who is a registered nurse in Tampa, served as one of the producers for the album.” An accomplished percussionist and bassist in his own right, his father is the one who suggested he take up the flute.
“It is a dream come true for him and for me to achieve such an accomplishment that we have worked so hard for over the years. He, along with my flute professor, Dr. (USF Associate Professor Kim) McCormick, has been my main mentor since I was eight years old. Both of them continually encouraged me through the obstacles I had to overcome.”
“Musically speaking, the album takes listeners through a sonic journey of the music of 20 countries,” Ruiz said. “Genres include Spanish flamenco, Argentinian Tango, Cuban son and timba, Nigerian drumming, Brazilian samba, Puerto Rican plena, U.S. electronic music, funk, hip hop and blues, Middle Eastern folkloric music, and more.”
The far-ranging sounds reflect some of the countries he has visited as well as his Puerto Rican roots, and some of his research interests.
With a bachelor’s degree in music studies from USF, Ruiz went on to earn a master’s degree in instrumental performance from the University of Miami. He returned to USF to work on his doctorate in music education.
Ruiz has attracted attention since he was a senior after selecting USF over scholarships to Berklee College of Music and Julliard.
The awards ceremony takes place Nov. 19 and will be broadcast live on Univision.
The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 50 research university among both public and private institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving nearly 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.