Trumpet great Wynton Marsalis. (Twitter Photo)
Dolores Ferdinand Marsalis, mother of trumpet great Wynton Marsalis and matriarch of one of jazz music’s best known families, died July 18 at age 80.
Dolores Marsalis’ husband, New Orleans pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis Jr., told New Orleans CBS affiliate WWL-TV that his wife had been fighting both pancreatic cancer and symptoms of dementia.
The couple has six sons: Branford, Wynton, Ellis III, Delfeayo , Mboya Kinyatta, and Jason. Four became jazz musicians, including Wynton, who won the first Pulitzer Prize awarded for Jazz Composition and is the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.
Ellis Marsalis Jr. credited his sons’ musical talent as coming from Dolores’ family.
“On her father’s side, she was related to Wellman Braud, who was Duke Ellington’s bass player, and on her mother’s side she was related to the clarinetist Alphonse Picou, so music really was in the family, even if it wasn’t something she herself pursued,” he told WWL-TV this week. “She had a beautiful singing voice and was very musical, though she didn’t practice it as a profession.”