NEW ORLEANS -- Ellis Marsalis Jr., the jazz pianist, teacher and patriarch of a New Orleans musical clan, died late Wednesday at the age of 85.

He'd been battling pneumonia brought on by the new coronavirus.

Marsalis leaves behind six sons and a deep legacy.

Son Branford says his dad was a giant of a musician and teacher, but an even greater father, who poured everything he had into making us the best of what we could be.

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, a 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 the Third, who decided music wasn't his gig, is a photographer-poet in Baltimore.

Ellis says pneumonia was the actual thing that caused his dad's demise, but it was pneumonia brought on by COVID-19.

In a statement, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell calls Ellis Marsalis a legend -- the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz.


This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of the last name of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.