“Mastermind” contains 7 original compositions and 2 standards. The album is an exploration of different instrumental settings, from a saxophone-drum duo to a classic hard-bop jazz sextet. The group obtained grants from the School of Music and the College of Fine Arts from Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, MI) to help realize the project.
The album was recorded in May 2012 at Arcadia Studios by John Stites, an experienced recording engineer who has worked with several artists including jazz legends: Billy Hart, Fred Hersch, and Jimmy Cobb. Further musicians who have contributed to the completion of the band’s CD recording are Jon Ailabouni on trumpet, Eric Bowman on trombone, Mike Jellick on piano, and Sam Weber on bass.
Ben Schmidt-Swartz and Nelson Oliva are both alumni of Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, MI). Ben has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance and he obtained the 2012 Jazz Senior Student Award. While, Nelson holds a Master’s Degree in Music and he is originally from Chile. Oliva has experiences performing professionally in several countries, some of which includes Argentina, France and the U.K.