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New Orleans jazz legend Ellis Marsalis Jr. dies from COVID-19 related pneumonia


Erika Goldring/WireImageThe jazz industry is mourning one of the greats, Ellis Marsalis Jr., who died from COVID-19 related pneumonia on Wednesday.  He was 85.

He went out the way he lived: embracing reality,” said son Wynton Marsalis, who went on to follow in his father’s footsteps and currently serves as Lincoln Center’s managing and artistic director of jazz.

The jazz stalwart left an indelible mark on the New Orleans music scene and the city is left reeling from the loss.

“Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced on Twitter

Cantrell followed up in a subsequent tweet, “[He] 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.”

Marsalis, who went on to become the first jazz instructor at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, is credited for influencing past students Harry Connick Jr.Terence Blanchard and Nicholas Payton.  

Inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame in 2008, the piano great is the father of six sons –four of which went on to successfully establish themselves with a career in music. 

Besides Wynton, his son Branford Marsalis is an accomplished jazz saxophonist who has worked with celebrities like Sting and Spike Lee.

His other sons Delfeayo Marsalis works as a record producer and jazz trombonist while Jason Maraslis is an accomplished drummer.

His is also survived by sons Ellis Maraslis III and Mboya Kenyatta Marsalis.

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