Musicians from all backgrounds, worldwide, recognize the last name “Marsalis.” Ellis Marsalis Jr. was an accomplished jazz pianist and musician who had four sons who followed in his footsteps—Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason—albeit, they chose varying instruments of their own liking. The Marsalises have toured the world, won awards, and have added their touches to the history of music, and now they mourn the death of their patriarch.
Variety reports that 85-year-old New Orleans legend Ellis Marsalis Jr. passed away from complications connected to his COVID-19 diagnosis. His son Brandford Marsalis issued a statement about his father’s passing. “My dad was a giant of a musician and teacher, but an even greater father. He poured everything he had into making us the best of what we could be,” Brandford said. “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.'”
The mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, tweeted a tribute to the late music icon. “Ellis Marsalis was a legend. 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,” she wrote. “Ellis Marsalis was an icon — and words aren’t sufficient to describe the art, the joy & the wonder he showed the world. May we wrap his family in our love & our gratitude, & may we honor his memory by coming together in spirit— even as the outbreak keeps us apart, for a time.” We send our condolences to the Marsalis family.