Ellis Marsalis Jr., the jazz pianist, teacher and patriarch of a New Orleans musical clan, has died after battling pneumonia brought on by the new coronavirus, one of his six sons said late Wednesday. He was 85. "It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my father, Ellis Marsalis Jr.," son Branford Marsalis said in a statement, saying his father was admitted to hospital on Saturday and "died peacefully this evening".
"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," said Branford of the patriarch of New Orleans' great musical family.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell marked Marsalis' death with a statement posted on Twitter.
"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," Cantrell wrote.
Marsalis is the father of internationally-known jazz musicians Branford (the saxophonist, who led Jay Leno's band on The Tonight Show), Wynton (trumpeter and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York), Delfeayo (trombonist, a record producer and performer) and Jason Marsalis (a drummer).
Two other sons, Ellis III, a photographer-poet, and Mboya, did not follow their father into music.
In December, Marsalis retired from his regular gig at Snug Harbor, where he had performed each week for more than 30 years. But he vowed to return as a special guest, accompanying other performers, including son Jason, and was performing as recently as three weeks ago.
In addition to his own musical career, Marsalis was well-respected as a jazz educator at the University of New Orleans, Xavier University and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.
(With IANS Inputs)