Ellis Marsalis Jr., jazz pianist, teacher and patriarch of a New Orleans musical clan that includes famed performer sons Wynton and Branford, has died after battling pneumonia brought on by the new coronavirus, one of his sons said late Wednesday. He was 85, APA reports citing France 24.
Ellis Marsalis III confirmed in an Associated Press phone interview that his father's death was sparked by the virus that is causing the global pandemic. "Pneumonia was the actual thing that caused his demise. But it was pneumonia brought on by COVID-19," he said.
He said he drove Sunday from Baltimore to be with his father as he was hospitalized in Louisiana, which has been hit hard by the outbreak. Others in the family spent time with him, too.
Four of the jazz patriarch's six sons are musicians: Wynton, trumpeter, is America's most prominent jazz spokesman as artistic director of jazz at New York's Lincoln Center. Branford, saxophonist, led The Tonight Show band and toured with Sting. Delfeayo, a trombonist, is a prominent recording producer and performer. And Jason, a percussionist, has made a name for himself with his own band and as an accompanist. Ellis III, who decided music wasn't his gig, is a photographer-poet in Baltimore.