NEW ORLEANS, LA – Ellis Marsalis, a New Orleans musical legend and patriarch of one of the most famous jazz families, is taking a retirement — of sorts.
He's no longer doing the weekly gig he's had for more than three decades.
Marsalis has performed at Snug Harbor on Frenchman Street every Friday for more than 30 years. But the Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported Wednesday that Marsalis told the club's proprietor late last year it had become too exhausting to play his usual two 75-minute sets every Friday evening at the club, and he no longer wanted to do it.
The 85-year-old ended his three-decade run of weekly shows at Snug Harbor on Dec. 27 with two sold-out shows, the newspaper reported.
“We figured out that he’s had a regular night at Snug Harbor since the late 1980s,” Snug Harbor proprietor Jason Patterson told the newspaper. “That is a long time.”
Marsalis will continue to perform on occasion. He intends to make about two monthly appearances at the club as a “special guest." Other acts will sit in with him for 35 minutes per set.
Four of his six sons are musicians: Wynton, a trumpeter; Branford, a saxophonist; Delfeayo, a trombonist; and Jason, a drummer. And he's helped nurture countless musicians over the years in various educational roles at Xavier University in New Orleans and the city's elite arts high school, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.
Some of his students include trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard; pianist and vocalist Harry Connick Jr.; saxophonists Donald Harrison and Victor Goines; and bassist Reginald Veal.