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Ellis Marsalis Jr., 1934-2020

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On April 1, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell shared the news that legendary jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr. had passed away. He was 85.

According to a report from The New York Times, the cause of death was COVID-19.

The jazz community has come together to collectively mourn him and cherish his musical legacy.

“Ellis Marsalis was a legend,” shared Mayor Cantrell. “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. Ellis Marsalis 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.”

“Ellis’ profound impact on the lineage of the music is embodied by the many musicians whose lives he has informed, inspired, and educated,” added an online statement from the Jazz at Lincoln Center twitter account. “Our Board, Orchestra, and staff send love and prayers to his sons: Branford, Wynton, Ellis III, Delfeayo, Mboya, and Jason Marsalis; as well as the entire Marsalis family.”

The Jazz Education Network also issued a statement regarding Marsalis’ passing: “The Jazz Education Network mourns the passing of renowned educator and pianist Ellis Marsalis. His influence and contribution to our music are both profound and tangible, and artists across three generations were set on their individual paths by his mentorship. Our sincerest condolences to the entire Marsalis family and the extended family of jazz. Rest In Peace.”

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