SUNY Oswego grant helps launch student's project to produce jazz album


February 15, 2018

SUNY Oswego senior music major Jacob Saeva plans to ride a college grant all the way to "Boston and Back," the title of an in-production album of music Saeva has worked hard to create this spring.

For the ambitious project -- partially funded by a $1,000 award from Oswego's Scholarly and Creative Activity Committee (SCAC) -- Saeva has composed a suite of traditional jazz and jazz fusion pieces that reflect his emotional highs and lows, the insights and other contributions of his mentors, and the multiple stops on his journey through higher education.

"This is something I wanted to do before I left SUNY Oswego -- to try some professional things without putting myself in a compromising position with the industry," said Saeva, a double bass player who has attended colleges in his native Rochester, in Boston and now in Oswego. "I wanted a big project to challenge myself musically."

SUNY Oswego music faculty member Eric Schmitz, an accomplished jazz drummer and composer who has had albums published, mentors Saeva. The challenges for the student, said Schmitz and Saeva, have ranged far beyond composition to hiring the three other members of a quartet, arranging for audio production in SUNY Oswego's state-of-the-art studios, putting together a production team, calling in a favor to make the master and press the CDs, and, with the help of another Oswego student, preparing for promotion and social media marketing.

"Ultimately, when I see a student who's as motivated as Jacob is, I really try to push them," said Schmitz. "Producing this music in college is a slightly safer setting than putting your name out there in a commercial way."

Schmitz last year suggested that Saeva apply for a Scholarly and Creative Activity student grant. "The nice thing about it is, if you get a little bit of support from the institution, you can end up with a good product from it," Schmitz said.

'Emotions, feelings'

Saeva said he has benefited from the criticism as well as the praise he has received along the way from Schmitz and other mentors, such as a high school teacher who recently passed away.

"I wrote 'Jill's Jacket' to memorialize her in my own way," he said. "It's very emotionally moving. This project has pushed me to explore emotions and feelings that I had never before put under a microscope."

Another tune sprang from an impromptu beat-box session on cell phone with a high school friend; another recalls the contributions of jazz bassist Danny Ziemann, a mentor of Saeva's who has served as an adjunct instructor at SUNY Oswego in recent years and encouraged Saeva to apply as a transfer student.

Saeva said he is using the money to help pay pianist Chris Spinelli, guitarist Conor Kolupski and drummer Steve Moutray; and for such costs as paper music, album design and inserts, CD stock and promotion. Saeva is grateful for the SCAC grant's impetus toward completing his project and for his SUNY Oswego music education.

"One of the biggest things I've learned (at Oswego) is confidence in myself," Saeva said. "I'm comfortable with who I am as a musician and a composer."

Other awards

William Bowers, associate provost for research development and administration, recently announced Saeva's and other students' SCAC awards, reflecting SUNY Oswego's commitment to faculty-mentored undergraduate as well as graduate research. The projects include the following:

* "A Continuation of Investigating Different Factors Affecting Ranavirus Transmission in Green Frogs in Oswego County" by Nathan McKean, sponsored by Jennifer Olori of biological sciences.

* "Quantification of Apoptosis as a Response to Polychlorinated Biphenyl 105 Exposure on Elliptio Complanta," Lauren Hardy; sponsor James MacKenzie of biological sciences.

* "Heavy Metals-Human Serum Albumin Binding Sites," Dylan Charland; sponsor Kestas Bendinskas of chemistry.

* "Development of a Stimuli-responsive Controlled Release System," Eynna Qian; sponsor Matthew Baker of chemistry.

* "Understanding Opioids: An Anthropological Investigation of Substance Abuse in Upstate New York," Howard Boutelle; sponsor Lindsay Bell of anthropology

* "Testing the Stimulation of Insulin Secretion by an Aqueous Extract of the Stem Bark of Musanga Cecropioides," Andrea Jemmott; sponsor Webe Kadima of chemistry.

* "Covering Rampage: News Consumers' Perceptions about Mass Shootings in the Media," Ryan McHale; sponsor Jaclyn Schildkraut of public justice.

* "Bounce into a Healthier Lifestyle," Mia Fasanella; sponsor Lindsay Bell of anthropology.

* "News Consumers' Perceptions of the Coverage of Domestic Terrorism," Samantha Blum; sponsor Jaclyn Schildkraut of public justice.

* "Geochemical Analysis of Fe-Ti-V Ores in the Adirondack Highlands by XRF and ICP-MS," Emily Fenner and Curtis Bernard; sponsor Allen Andersen of atmospheric and geological sciences.

For more information on opportunities for internal as well as external grants at SUNY Oswego, visit for the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

'Boston and Back' -- Double bass player Jacob Saeva (right), a SUNY Oswego senior, talks with mentor and music faculty member Eric Schmitz about Saeva's project to compose, perform, record, produce, publish and market a jazz album, "Boston and Back," with the assistance of professional artists, other colleagues and a college-provided grant.