Jazz legend and father of four musical sons, Ellis Marsalis Jr., died Wednesday in New Orleans from complications of COVID-19, his son Branford Marsalis told the New York Times. He was 85.
Ellis Marsalis Jr. was a pianist, the first chair of the jazz studies program at the University of New Orleans, and the first jazz instructor at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
“Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz,” Cantrell said in a statement Wednesday. “He was a teacher, a father, and an icon — and words aren’t sufficient to describe the art, the joy and the wonder he showed the world.”
Marsalis was born in New Orleans in 1934. He and his wife Delores Ferdinand had six sons,
Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason became musicians. Wynton is now managing and artistic director of Jazz at the Lincoln Center and Branford is a famous jazz saxophonist.