Marsalis family patriarch Ellis Marsalis Jr died April 1, 2020 in New Orleans at the age of 85 as a result of complications form the Covi-19 virus. The family reported that Marsalis had contracted pneumonia but it was the corona virus that caused his death.
Son Bradford spoke on his father saying, “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.”
A teacher and musician; Marsalis has taught at Xavier University, Virginia Commonwealth University, the New Orleans magnet high school, and New Orleans University and his students have included Harry Connick Jr, Nicholas Payton, Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Victor Goines, and Reginald Veal. He retired from teaching in 2001.
Four of his six children followed in Marsalis’ musical footsteps – Bradford, Wynton, Delfeayo, and Jason.
While Marsalis himself has never won a Grammy Award; sons Wynton and Bradford has won a combined 13 of the golden Victrola statutes.
He is a member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
Marsalis has not performed regularly in a number of years, but has made regular appearances at the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. He also worked for Al Hirst.
Ellis Louis Marsalis Jr was born on November 14, 1934 in New Orleans, Louisiana the son of a hotel operator. While best known for his piano playing, Marsalis played the saxophone in high school.
While serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he accompanied the soloists who appeared on the weekly television program.
Predeceased by his wife Dolores, Marsalis is survived by his six sons – Bradford, Wynton, Delfeayo, Jason, Ellis III, and Mboya.
Ellis Marsalis Jr’s discography includes:
“Piano in E-Solo Piano”
“King Midas and the Golden Touch”
“A Night at Snug Harbor, New Orleans”
“Ellis Marsalis Trio”
“Heart of Gold”
“Joe Cool’s Blues”
“Duke in Blue”
“Rumminations in New York”
“An Open Letter to Thelonious”
“A New Orleans Christmas Carol”
“Pure Pleasure for the Piano”
“On the First Occasion”
“Live at Jazzfest 2017”
“Plays the Music of Ellis Marsalis”
“Live at Jazzfest 2018”
“On the Second Occasion”
“Live at Jazzfest 2013”
“Live at Jazzfest 2012”
“Live at Jazzfest 2014”
“Live at Jazzfest 2011”
“Live at Jazzfest 2015”
feature photo credit: By Tulane Public Relations – Ellis MarsalisUploaded by AlbertHerring, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29679779