Legendary New Orleans jazz musician Ellis Marsalis Jr has died at the age of 85 from complications of coronavirus.

The pianist and educator was the patriarch of a legendary musical family.

His son Branford Marsalis told the New York Times that his father had died due to COVID-19.

Ellis Jr was the father of four musical sons.

He died on Wednesday, the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music director Emeritus Quint Davis announced.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell released a statement following the sad news.

She said: "Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz.

American jazz musician Ellis Marsalis Jr (left) and his son, fellow musician Wynton Marsalis pictured in 1990.
Ellis has died of coronavirus at age 85

"He was a teacher, a father, and an icon - and words aren't sufficient to describe the art, the joy and the wonder he showed the world."

Ellis has six sons, and four of them followed in his musical footsteps, each establishing their own lasting careers in the jazz industry.

His son Wynton, a trumpeter, is the managing and artistic director of jazz at Lincoln Center and has won multiple awards.

Another of his sons, Branford, is a jazz saxophonist who has recorded albums with Sting and many other artists.

He was an incredible musician and teacher
Ellis performing at his piano in 2010

Ellis enjoyed a long career as a jazz pianist and composer, and was also the first jazz instructor at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts as well as the first chair of the jazz studies programme at the University of New Orleans.

Ellis spent decades working as a musician and teacher in New Orleans before his eldest sons, Wynton and Branford, found fame in the early 1980s.

As they became famous, so too did their father, who went on to become a household name.

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Branford paid tribute to his father in a statement.

He said: "My dad was a giant of a musician and teacher, but an even greater father. He poured everything he had into making us the best of what we could be."