Saxophone virtuoso Ernie Watts will be the featured artist at the annual Illinois State University Jazz Festival, Friday and Saturday, March 18 & 19. The festival will also feature performances by junior high and high school jazz bands from Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

Watts will perform with Illinois State’s Jazz Ensemble I both evenings at 8 p.m. in the University’s Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $12 for faculty and staff and $10 for students and seniors. The Friday evening concert will include a performance by Illinois State’s Jazz Ensemble II, while the Saturday evening show will feature the grand champion in the Festival’s band competition.

High school and junior high jazz bands will perform throughout both afternoons, starting at 1 p.m. on Friday and at 12:05 p.m. on Saturday. Afternoon performances are free and open to the public.

Two-time Grammy Award winner Ernie Watts is one of the most versatile and prolific saxophone players in the music industry. During his more than 40-year career, he has been featured on over 500 recordings and has worked with a diverse array of artists including Buddy Rich, Oliver Nelson, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Haden, Pat Metheny and Frank Zappa.