Ellis Marsalis Jr., Jazz Pianist and Patriarch of a Musical Family, Dies at 85


Ellis Marsalis Jr., a popular New Orleans jazz pianist and patriarch who mentored 4 musician sons, died on Wednesday at a clinic in New Orleans. He was 85.

The lead to was issues of Covid-19, the ailment brought about by the coronavirus, his son, Branford, explained.

“Ellis Marsalis was a legend,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans wrote on Twitter. “He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz.”

In addition to creating himself as a formidable pianist and musical educator, Mr. Marsalis also formed the musical occupations of his four sons: Wynton, a trumpeter and composer who is the handling and creative director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Branford, a saxophonist Delfeayo, a trombonist and Jason, a drummer.

Mr. Marsalis was greatly regarded as an influential trainer and figurehead in jazz. But he was not a staunch traditionalist.

In 1979, when he played frequent gigs at the Carnegie Tavern, at West 56th Street and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, The New York Instances described him as “an eclectic performer with a gentle and graceful contact, but additional exploratory switch of mind.”

Mr. Marsalis’s wife, Dolores, died in 2017. He is survived by his sons, Branford, Wynton, Ellis III, Delfeayo, MBoya and Jason his sister Yvette and 13 grandchildren.


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