"A Saxophone Star Ready to Go Nova"
Jerry Karp ( SF Chronicle, SFweekly, JazzWest.com & DownBeat Magazine)
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About Dayna Stephens...
Internationally renowned saxophonist/composer/educator Dayna Stephens, is a force to watch out for. A fluid, vigorous soloist with a warm, soulful sound, Dayna has also proven himself a master of composition and arrangement, a highly acclaimed band leader and an “in-demand” side-man for some of Jazz’ contemporary masters, such as Kenny Barron, Idris Mohammed, Taylor Eigsti. His debut album “The Timeless Now,” released on “Contagious Music” in 2007, features jazz legends John Scofield, Taylor Eigsti, Ben Street, Eric Harland and Nick Vayenas. The record was immediately embraced by the jazz community and resulted in heavy radio airplay across the US. It received warm reviews from a number of magazines, including a four-star review in the Nov 2007 issue of “Downbeat,” and climbed to #11 on the Billboard jazz charts, #9 on “JazzWeek” and NPR top-10 Jazz Jewels of 2007.”
Dayna was born in Brooklyn, New York, August 1st, 1978, and was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He showed serious talent early on, winning many awards and scholarships to various music programs, while attending the prestigious Berkeley High School. He then proceeded to the Berklee College of Music in Boston on a full scholarship. Following his graduation, Dayna was selected by judges Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Terence Blanchard for the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at USC where he studied and played with, among others, Shorter, Hancock, Dave Holland, John Scofield and Mark Turner.
In recent years, he has appeared on stage with numerous established musicians and other rising stars, including Terrance Blanchard, Geoffrey Keezer, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Matt Wilson, Oliver Lake, Roy Hargrove, Carlos Santana, Stephon Harris, Stevie Wonder, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Peter Apfelbaum, OZOmatli, Patrice Rushen, Tom Harrell, Reuben Rogers, Gregory Hutchinson, Gretchen Parlato, Josh Roseman, Ray Drummond, Winard Harper, Bobby Short, Bruce Barth, and many others.
Dayna has also established himself as a powerful educator, serving as faculty at the Stanford Jazz Workshop for nine consecutive years. He’s been a featured artist at the Sebelius Academy in Helsinki Finland as well as giving master-classes and clinics at various high-schools and colleges across the US which include, LaGaurdia High School, Alameda High School, Cole Middle School, Washington Prep High School, Los Angeles County High School for the arts, Islip High School, The Jazz School in Berkeley California, University of Southern California, San Francisco State University.
Interview – Downbeat Magazine
San Francisco-based tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens learned a lot about composing, first from mentors Wayne Shorter and Terence Blanchard.
“Wayne helped me realize how important melody is,” Stephens said. “The way he took a melody and developed it before coming up with harmonies established the importance of melody. Terence helped me learn to make each composition distinctive while maintaining my own voice.” Click here to read more
SFJAZZ Hotplate: Eddie Harris Tribute