Jazz Institute – instructors

Dr. Alex Fraile (A.B.D.)

Saxophone

Alex Fraile was born in Miranda de Ebro, Spain. At the age of 9 years old, he started to play the saxophone at his hometown’s conservatory. His career as a professional musician started when he moved in 2005 to Barcelona to pursue his undergraduate degree in Jazz Performance at the Conservatori del Liceu, getting the opportunity to study with some of the best Spanish jazz musicians, such as Perico Sambeat, Llibert Fortuny, Jon Robles, David Mengual, Horacio Fumero, and Mariano Diaz.

During his time in Barcelona, he was part of different jazz and hip-hop projects, such as the Roc Calvet quartet, Flowklorikos, Rafael Lechowski, Banda Ancha, and his own jazz quartet where he mixed all of these influences to produce an innovative sound. He has played in many different Spanish festivals and clubs throughout Spain and Europe. He recorded with Rafael Lechowski (Flowklorikos) for Spanish National Television as well as multiple albums with a wide range of groups. In 2009 he recorded his first album, Días en Barcelona.

The same year, he moved to the United States to pursue a graduate degree. He received his Master’s degree and is currently finishing a Doctoral degree in Jazz Performance at the University of North Texas, where he was a Teaching Fellow for Professor Brad Leali. He has had the chance to study with some of the best international jazz musicians, such as Benny Golson, Brad Leali, Rich Perry, Steve Wilson, Stefan Karlsson, and Ed Soph among others. He has been a part of the Grammy-Nominated One O’Clock Lab Band, recording over three records (Lab 2012, Lab 2013 and Lab 2015), and touring extensively around the United States.

Since he moved to the United States, he has performed in multiple festivals and clubs throughout the country, sharing the stage with a wide array of professional musicians in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as well as international jazz artist such as Mike Stern, Bobby McFerrin, John Clayton, Peter Erskine, Terrell Stafford, and Andy Narell among others. He is currently based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where he teaches and performs regularly. All of these experiences have contributed to his formation as the accomplished, well-rounded musician that he is today.


Paul Lees

Piano

Paul Lees, Piano Paul Lees is a classically-trained jazz musician who is comfortable playing many different musical genres besides jazz and classical music, including pop, funk, gospel, Contemporary Christian music, etc. An empathetic individual who is very good at breaking down difficult musical concepts into understandable ideas in teaching contexts and is very organized and attentive to detail. Functions well in a group or band.

He received his Bachelor of Music from the University of North Texas, and he is currently working on his Masters degree in Jazz Studies at UNT.


Gavin Kelso

Bass

Gavin Kelso has been addicted to musical vibration for as long as he can remember. At his home in Neosho, Missouri, his parents had a wonderful collection of rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and jazz records; and some of Gavin’s earliest memories include sitting in front of the stereo, mesmerized by the sounds. It wasn’t long before he knew definitively that his relationship with music could not and would not be limited to listening to it; and it was around this time that he began to recognize a common element in almost all the music he loved – killin’ bass lines.

Within his first year of playing the electric bass, he progressed from playing along with recordings in his basement to playing in school ensembles and becoming a sought-after professional in the Four State Area. In his high school jazz ensemble, Gavin developed a love for jazz giants like John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, and Bill Evans. It was also during this time that he discovered the double bass, the instrument that would become his true musical voice. Upon graduation, Kelso moved to Denton, Texas, where he enrolled in the largest double bass program in the world and immersed himself in the study of the bass and of classical music under the tutelage of world-renowned pedagogue and performer Jeff Bradetich. In May 2011, he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Double Bass Performance.

From 2012-2013, Gavin served as the touring bassist for the critically acclaimed Quebe Sisters Band. In June of 2013, he was one of ten semi-finalists from around the world in the International Society of Bassists Jazz Competition, at which he received an honorable mention and a special commendation for an original piece composed especially for the competition Gifted with a powerful dexterity on the bass, a lively imagination, and a selfless dedication to the music and to the groove, Gavin continues to emerge as a standout performer in his generation. A resident of Dallas, Texas, he currently maintains a busy schedule performing and recording regionally, nationally, and internationally with many artists in a wide variety of genres, as well as teaching private lessons. Gavin’s playing has been featured on radio, television, and film.


John Sturino

Drums

Drummer and vibraphonist John Sturino (“stu-Re-no”) began making music at a remarkably young age and hasn’t looked back since.

John Sturino, DrumsA native of Kenosha, Wisconsin, Sturino quickly began to garner the attention of local musicians in the greater Milwaukee area at a young age. He found himself playing with a multitude of musicians by way of his father, an accomplished jazz pianist himself. Sturino first found music through the piano, but shifted focus to the drumset at the age of nine. As time progressed, it only seemed obvious that the natural combination of the two instruments was the vibraphone, on which Sturino now also regularly performs. While in high school, Sturino held the WSMA High School Honors Jazz drumset chair, the top drumset position for his age in the state, for all three eligible years. He was also selected as the drummer for the 2012 Jazz Band of America, under the direction of John Clayton. While in high school, Sturino composed two original compositions tailored specifically to his school’s percussion ensemble, which ended up receiving statewide honors from the Wisconsin State Music Association.

Sturino began his studies at the University of North Texas in 2012, where he quickly established himself as a versatile musician. His experience at UNT includes performing in the Grammy-Nominated One O’Clock Lab Band on Drumset and Vibraphone, the Downbeat-Award winning Two O’Clock Lab Band, the Downbeat-Award winning UNT Latin Jazz Lab Band, Brazilian and Afro-Cuban Ensembles, with Arthur Barrow (alumni and Clonemeister of Frank Zappa’s band) performing the music of Frank Zappa, and a multitude of student-led small group and degree recital performances during the school year. Sturino studied primarily with Ed Soph.

John Sturino, Fun, Drums

Sturino has also established himself as an emerging music educator, most notably through his association with Stanford University by way of the Stanford Jazz Workshop. During his summer tenures at Stanford, Sturino worked closely with students from a multitude of countries, as well as teaching along side a robust faculty that included Donny McCaslin, Ndugu Chancler, Tootie Heath, Allison Miller, Anat Cohen, Jimmy Heath, and more. Sturino also co-founded the Kenosha Jazz All-Stars, an annual summer youth program in his own hometown that brings jazz education and performance experience to middle and high school age students.

In 2010, Sturino was selected as one of two finalists in the “Jazz” category of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) International Drum Set Competition adjudicated by Jeff Hamilton, Matt Wilson, and Stanton Moore.