Ellis Marsalis, master of jazz and patriarch of the musical family, dies at 85


NEW ORLEANS – Ellis Marsalis, the patriarch of a family of New Orleans musicians, known for his modern jazz brand as well as for educating generations of musicians as a teacher, has died, according to a member of family. He was 85 years old.

Marsalis was hospitalized and tested for a coronavirus, but the result was not available on Wednesday, the family member told WWL-TV presenter Eric Paulsen.

In December Marsalis retired from his regular concert at Snug Harbor, where he has been performing weekly for more than 30 years. But he promised to return as a special guest, accompanying other artists, including his son Jason.

In addition to his own musical career, Marsalis was widely respected as a jazz educator at the University of New Orleans, Xavier University, and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.

His many prominent students included Harry Connick Jr., Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison Jr., Nicholas Payton, Kent and Marlon Jordan and Irvin Mayfield, as well as the four of his sons who became professional musicians.

The mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, said that the city lost a legend when Marsalis died.

“He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz. The love and prayers of all our people go out to his family and to all those whose lives they touched. He was a teacher, a father, and an icon – and words are not enough to describe the art, the joy and the wonder he showed the world. This loss cuts us deeply. May we envelop his family in our love and gratitude, and may we honor his memory by coming together in spirit – even if the epidemic separates us, for a time. “

This is a developing story. Check back at WWLTV.com for more information.

With the report by Eric Paulsen


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