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Ellis Marsalis, New Orleans Jazz Patriarch, Dead at 85

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Ellis Marsalis, the New Orleans jazz pianist and patriarch of an accomplished family of musicians, has died. The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music confirmed his death to NBC News. Branford Marsalis said his father died of COVID-19 complications. He was 85.

Marsalis was the father of renowned musicians Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo, and Jason Marsalis; his grandson Slauson Malone (Jasper Marsalis) is a former member of Standing on the Corner. He was a renowned educator and pianist who recorded multiple albums.

“My dad was a giant of a musician and teacher, but an even greater father,” Branford Marsalis wrote. “He poured everything he had into making us the best of what we could be. And to quote my friend and Harvard Law Professor David Wilkins who just sent me the following text: ‘We can all marvel at the sheer audacity of a man who believed he could teach his black boys to be excellent in a world that denied that very possibility, and then watch them go on to redefine what excellence means for all time.’”

“Ellis Marsalis was a legend,” wrote New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz. The love and the prayers of all of our people go out to his family, and to all of those whose lives he touched.”



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Date: April 2, 2020
Author: Evan Minsker