Those of us who attended the University of New Orleans while he was a teacher there, were heartbroken to hear about the death of the Jazz legend Ellis Marsalis. He was an important figure in my life and he made an incredible impact on me both musically and in many aspects that are about as easy to describe or isolate, as water is to shovel, or a sunlight is to collect in a glass.
While at the University of New Orleans, I had Mr. Marsalis for private lessons. He would inspire me, as well as challenge me as a musician. But furthermore, he would give me an insight into the humanity of both himself and his peers; they were not just mythological figures we young folks painted them to be – they were also each others good friends; fathers and mothers of children; and the children of their own elders.
Ellis Marsalis was a selfless human being. Not merely a man who managed his skill on the bandstand, but a man who made certain he was as generous to others in life, as he was to bandmates on a gig. I miss the sound of his voice and the frank, cut-to-the-chase honesty and humor that was innately his own.
Prof’, you are missed by all of us. Thank you for your belief that if we were dedicated, the sky was our limit, and beyond.