Dave Pietro, gifted saxophonist, composer and educator, will serve as this year’s featured guest artist with student jazz musicians as part of the 55th annual Tarleton State University Jazz Festival on Saturday, March 25.

The closing concert of the festival will feature Pietro and the Tarleton Jazz Ensembles under the direction of Greg Ball, in the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Admission to the evening concert is $10. The box office will open one hour prior to the performance; all seating is general admission.

“I’m really looking forward to this year’s Jazz Festival,” Ball said ahead of his final festival before retiring at the end of this semester. “Dave Pietro is an amazing musician and educator. He is a fantastic saxophonist and flutist and the band is having a blast preparing his music.

“I’ve been doing the festival now for 25 years and this is a good way for me to go out.”

A native of Southboro, Mass., Pietro has been on the New York music scene since 1987. His talents as a gifted saxophonist, composer and educator have made him an in-demand musician who has performed at jazz clubs, jazz festivals, schools and concert halls in more than 30 countries throughout Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America.

He is currently a member of the Grammy Award-winning Maria Schneider Orchestra and the Grammy nominated groups the Gil Evans Project and Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society. From 1994-2013 he played lead alto saxophone and recorded seven CDs with the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra.

Pietro has toured and/or recorded with the bands of Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Maynard Ferguson, The Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, John Fedchock, Mike Holober, Anita Brown, Pete McGuinness, Jim Widner and Arturo O’Farrill. He also has performed with many other well known musicians such as Paul Anka, Louis Bellson, Blood Sweat & Tears, David Bowie, Bobby Caldwell, Ray Charles, Rosemary Clooney, Harry Connick Jr., Michael Feinstein, Chaka Khan, Liza Minnelli, James Naughton and John Pizzarelli. Pietro has studied East Indian music and performed with various groups led by Indian tablist Sandip Burman.

He was selected as a semi-finalist for the first two Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Saxophone Competitions (1991 and 1996) and was a finalist in the 1995 JAZZIZ Magazine “Woodwinds on Fire” talent search. In 1996 Pietro received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2005 and 2007 he received grants from Chamber Music America’s New Works Programs to compose and perform his new extended work, “The Chakra Suite” (2008-Challenge). Featuring Gary Versace, Rez Abbasi, Todd Isler, Johannes Weidenmueller and Adam Cruz, it was voted one of the top CD's of 2008 by All About Jazz.

Pietro received a bachelor’s degree in music education from North Texas State University where he toured and recorded four albums with the school’s One O’Clock Lab Band. He has a master of arts degree in jazz composition from New York University where he currently holds the position of music assistant professor of jazz studies. He has given hundreds of workshops and concerts at schools around the world and is sponsored by D’Addario Woodwinds, the Conn-Selmer Instrument Company and R.S. Berkeley Musical Instruments.

Every year since 1962 the university has hosted the Tarleton Jazz Festival, a one-day event that is designed for high school and junior high groups to perform for and work with renowned jazz educators and to hear guest artists. Previous guest artists include the Count Basie Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson, Bob Mintzer, David “Fathead” Newman, Rufus Reid and Maria Schneider, Jeff Coffin of Dave Matthews Band, and the 2014 guest artist Jon Faddis.

“The festival is designed to give students in-depth exposure to all aspects of jazz,” Ball said. “The bands will perform on our stages for several jazz educators who will provide written comments. Following their performances, the groups will work with one of the clinicians, receiving immediate feedback on positive aspects, and help in those areas that need it.”

Awards will be given to outstanding bands in all classifications and outstanding musicians/soloists in each group at the conclusion of the festival.

All Jazz Festival events during the day are open to the public and admission is free, except for the evening concert.

For more information, visit http://www.tarleton.edu/band/camps/jazz-festival.html.