Dayna Stephens Liberty Trio
Dayna Stephens Liberty Trio
Dayna Stephens – Saxophones & EWI
Harish Raghavan – Bass
Kweku Sumbry – Drums
Built from the ethos that liberty is the common ground we all stand on and can build from, Dayna Stephens’ Liberty Trio takes liberty in using a wide range of textural colors and rhythmic languages. Stephens performs on all four saxophones (soprano to baritone) and EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) to create a diverse sonic world that encompasses traditional swing and out-of-time exploratory realms.
Recent recipient of the number-two spot for the 2017 DownBeat Critics Poll in the category “Rising Star—Tenor Saxophone”, Dayna Stephens has garnered critical acclaim over the years for his playing, compositions and arrangements. DownBeat’s James Hale describes Gratitude, the saxophonist/composer’s eighth release as a leader, as a “highly cinematic listening experience, full of roiling seas and shifting skies.” Brad Faberman cites Stephens as the JazzTimes Editor’s Pick, writing, “His big, warm lines are full of notes and intent but also gusts of wind, bodies of water.”
Playing with pureness of intention, Stephens admits he’s always searching to find what’s “singable”. That search often results in live improvisations and written compositions that challenge traditional concepts of harmony, pushing phrasing and sending beautiful and unintentional melodies in unlikely directions. Stephens’ soulful lines have resonated through the halls of such internationally renowned venues as the Village Vanguard, Blue Note Jazz Club, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Birdland, Yoshi’s, The Blue Whale, Marians Jazzroom in Switzerland, Blue Note Milano, Philharmonie de Paris, Le Duc des Lombards, Red Rocks, and San Francisco Jazz Center.
Stephens has traveled and recorded with a cross section of such distinctive voices, including pianists Brad Mehldau, Fred Hersch, Billy Childs, Geoffrey Keezer, Taylor Eigsti, Muhal Richard Abrams, Kenny Barron, Theo Hill, Gerald Clayton, and Aaron Parks; trumpet players Roy Hargrove, Tom Harrell, Sean Jones, Terell Stafford, Brian Lynch, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Michael Rodriguez; saxophone players Wayne Shorter, Jaleel Shaw, Ben Wendel, Chris Potter, John Ellis, and Walter Smith III; bass players Ben Street, Rufus Reid, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Joe Sanders, Linda Oh, Doug Weiss, Larry Grenadier, and Harish Raghavan; vocalists Gretchen Parlato, Becca Stevens, and Sachal Vasandani; and guitar players John Scofield, Julian Lage, Charles Altura, Mike Moreno, Lage Lund, Pete Bernstein, and Carlos Santana.
A graduate of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, where he studied under artistic icons Terence Blanchard, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, Stephens began his formal studies with a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music in Boston. As an undergraduate, he was diagnosed with the rare kidney disease focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). In June 2009, Stephens began a course of dialysis that lasted for six years, grounding him in the New York area and preventing him from touring internationally until his aunt stepped in to donate her kidney for a transplant in October 2015.
And with the release from physical suffering arrives the jubilation and humble awareness of an interconnected self that helped shape Gratitude, Stephens’ first self-produced recording on his brand-new label Contagious Music. Featuring compositions that share soulful and sophisticated melodies, including music from Aaron Parks, Pat Metheny and Stephens himself, Gratitude serves as a gentle and powerful awakening of a universal spirit in an era of division. Personnel includes Brad Mehldau, Julian Lage, Larry Grenadier and Eric Harland.