Jazz Legend Ellis Marsalis Dies

Jazz legend Ellis Marsalis died today (April 1) He was 85.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued the following statement on the death of thelegendary jazz pianist, composer and educator.

“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. 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. This loss cuts us deeply. May we wrap his family in our love and our gratitude, and may we honor his memory by coming together in spirit — even as the outbreak keeps us apart, for a time.” 

Ellis Marsalis, Jr. was born in 1934, and went on to become the father of six sons, four of whom would establish their own careers as jazz musicians: Wynton (trumpet), Delfeayo (trombone), Branford (saxophone) and Jason (vibes, drum). While he recorded nearly 20 albums of his own work, Marsalis mentored musicians beyond his own family, as the first jazz instructor at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and as the first chair of the jazz studies program at the University of New Orleans. Along the way he mentored such contemporary greats as Terence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, Donald Harrison Jr., Kent Jordan, Marlon Jordan, and Harry Connick Jr. — the latter of whom joined the Marsalises for a family tribute concert in 2001 to mark Ellis’ retirement from UNO in 2001, at age 66. 

In 2011, Marsalis and his sons were honored with the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Masters Award, as a group. For three decades and until this past January, he held down a weekend gig at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro on Frenchmen Street. 

Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued the following statement on legendary jazz pianist, composer and educator Ellis Marsalis, who has died at the age of 85:

“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. 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. This loss cuts us deeply. May we wrap his family in our love and our gratitude, and may we honor his memory by coming together in spirit — even as the outbreak keeps us apart, for a time.”
 
Ellis Marsalis, Jr. was born in 1934, and went on to become the father of six sons, four of whom would establish their own careers as jazz musicians: Wynton (trumpet), Delfeayo (trombone), Branford (saxophone) and Jason (vibes, drum). While he recorded nearly 20 albums of his own work, Marsalis mentored musicians beyond his own family, as the first jazz instructor at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and as the first chair of the jazz studies program at the University of New Orleans.
 
Along the way he mentored such contemporary greats as Terence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, Donald Harrison Jr., Kent Jordan, Marlon Jordan, and Harry Connick Jr. — the latter of whom joined the Marsalises for a family tribute concert in 2001 to mark Ellis’ retirement from UNO in 2001, at age 66.
 
In 2011, Marsalis and his sons were honored with the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Masters Award, as a group.
 
For three decades and until this past January, he held down a weekend gig at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro on Frenchmen Street.
 

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