Trombonist and composer Marshall Gilkes will be the featured artist at the 2015 Illinois State University Jazz Festival, Friday and Saturday, March 27 and 28. Both days of the festival will feature free afternoon performances by junior high and high school jazz bands from across Illinois. All performances will take place in the University’s Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall.

Gilkes will perform with Illinois State’s Jazz Ensemble I both evenings at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $12 for faculty and staff and $10 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at the Center for the Performing Arts Box Office or by phone at (309) 438-2535.

The Friday evening concert will include an opening performance by Illinois State’s Jazz Ensemble II, while the Saturday evening show will feature an opening performance by the grand champion in the festival’s band competition.

Gilkes is a versatile trombonist who combines jazz, classical composition, straight-ahead swing and modernism to create a distinctive sound. That combination has made him an in-demand performer, composer, sideman and clinician since the 1990s. With early training in classical music, he was also drawn to jazz and eventually entered the jazz program at the Juilliard School, while continuing his classical music studies.

Gilkes has played and recorded with a variety of artists and ensembles, including the David Berger Jazz Orchestra, Ryan Truesdell’s Gil Evans Project, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Barbra Streisand. On his latest recording, Köln, Gilkes performs with the German WDR Big Band, of which he was a member from 2010 to 2013.

He was a finalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, and has been voted a Rising Star on multiple occasions in DownBeat’s esteemed Critics Poll. Bill Milkowski of JazzTimes has called Gilkes “compelling, harmonically intriguing and ferociously swinging,” while bandleader Maria Schneider refers to him as “one of those musicians who continually just drops my jaw and leaves me shaking my head in disbelief.”