ECC Arts Center to host Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues ensemble with guest Ernie Watts

  • Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues ensemble will be joined by jazz great and two-time Grammy Award winner Ernie Watts on saxophone at the ECC Arts Center on Friday, May 13.

    Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues ensemble will be joined by jazz great and two-time Grammy Award winner Ernie Watts on saxophone at the ECC Arts Center on Friday, May 13. Courtesy of ECC Arts Center

Updated 4/22/2022 2:44 PM

On Friday, May 13, the Elgin Community College Arts Center presents Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues ensemble with special guest jazz saxophone icon Ernie Watts.

The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Blizzard Theatre located in Building H on the Spartan Drive campus, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin.


The upcoming concert celebrates the group's 35th season and marks a benchmark anniversary with the venue's now retired executive director, Steve Duchrow.

Duchrow and friend Burt Dikelsky, then executive director of the Paramount Theater in Aurora, were the first two presenters to book the Chamber Blues ensemble 35 years ago.

Esteemed jazz critic Howard Reich cheered in the Chicago Tribune that the Midwest premiere was "a resounding triumph" and again in 2013 Reich reiterated that "Siegel's classically tinged works are no less legitimate -- if somewhat less celebrated -- than counterparts by George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck and others."

Prior to the concert, both Siegel and Watts will be offering master classes on May 5 for the Elgin Community College Jazz Ensemble students under the direction of the school's music director, Professor Shawn Maxwell.

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Corky Siegel has earned an international reputation as one of the world's great blues harmonica masters. He is a composer, blues pianist, singer/songwriter, and a winner of the Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest/Meet the Composer's national award for chamber music composition and the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship Award for Music Composition, Chicago Lifetime Achievement Award, and Chicago Blues Hall of Fame. Along with the members of the ensemble and the illustrious guests, Chamber Blues continues to break new ground in its 35th year of innovation. Learn more about Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues at

Watts won two Grammy Awards as an instrumentalist in the 1980s. While studying at Berklee College of Music, he joined the Buddy Rich Band, and later joined Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" band for 20 years. He played the jazz riff on Glenn Frey's 1982 "The One You Love," and was a founding member of Charlie Haden's Quartet West. He played on Kurt Elling's album "Dedicated to You," which won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2011. Ernie Watts Quartet's 2016 album, "Wheel of Time," offers a lyrical piece in memory of Charlie Haden, his friend and bandleader in Quartet West for nearly 30 years.

Tickets to Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues are $35. Tickets are available for purchase online at and by phone at (847) 622-0300. The ECC Arts Center can be found at and

Prior to purchasing tickets, please note that patrons are required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of the performance date and an ID. Patrons are required to wear face coverings at all times.


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