Son: Jazz great Ellis Marsalis Jr. dead at 85; fought virus

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Jazz musician Ellis Marsalis talks to students during a jazz music workshop hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama at the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 15, 2009. Michelle Obama introduced the White House?s music series which featured artists of all ages. The series began with the Jazz Studio, to be followed by country and classical music events this summer and fall. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS – One of the sons of New Orleans jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr. says the patriarch of the New Orleans clan that includes famed musician sons Wynton and Branford has died after battling pneumonia brought on by COVID-19. The jazz patriarch was 85.  

Ellis Marsalis III said Wednesday his father had been hospitalized while battling the new coronavirus. The elder Marsalis opted to stay in New Orleans most of his career, gaining wider national prominence once his sons became famous.

Four of his six sons are musicians: Wynton, the trumpeter, is America’s most prominent jazz spokesman as artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.

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