The death this week of Ellis Marsalis recalls dozens of enounters with him when he was one of New Orleans’ premier jazz musicians. Long before Ellis became famous as the father of Wynton, Branford, Jason and Delfeo, he established himself as a nonpareil pianist and educator. I remember hearing the the young Marsalis when he was a key member of alto saxophonist Al Belletto’s sextet in the 1960s and being spellbound by the intricacies he and Belletto wove in their performances together. Marsalis was a powerful influence on the playing and career paths of some of the city’s most talented young jazz artists. He was a mentor not only to his sons, but also to Harry Connick, Jr., Johnny Vidacovich, Richard Payne and many other players in the upper levels of New Orleans jazz talent. In this video from the 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Marsalis and his quartet playing his composition “Twelve’s It.” The members of the group are identified onscreen as the video begins.
Ellis Marsalis, RIP
Orsolya S. says
My condolences on Mr. Marsalis’s passing.
Thanks for the video tribute, Doug.
Dave Kiffer says
To the broader world, Mr. Marsalis was known as a teacher. Thanks for reminder that he could swing with the best of them!
Dan Smith says
Such a beautiful light touch. He surely made it look easy,
Donna Shore says
I know he would’ve lived a lot longer if it hadn’t been for the dreadful virus. He had a long term stamina and he lived a very good life. The loss of Marsalis and Bucky Pizzarelli wll have huge impact on the Jazz Idiom. Our grief and our loss is palpable.
Orsolya S. says
Wynton Marsalis paid tribute to his late father Ellis Marsalis on last Sunday’s “60 Minutes” program. He was interviewed by John Dickerson. A “60 Minutes Overtime” segment of the interview is available for viewing on YouTube.