Take Five With Dayna

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Meet dayna: Dayna Stephens was born in Brooklyn, New York August 1st, 1978, and was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He began playing the saxophone at age thirteen. He attended the prestigious Berkeley High School and took part in their jazz ensemble. Dayna was then accepted to Berklee School of Music in Boston, MA on a full scholarship. There, he studied with Hal Crook, Billy Pierce, George Garzone and Andy McGee among others. While in Boston, Dayna also had the opportunity to perform with Chick Corea and the Boston Pops for a P.B.S. special.

After graduating from Berklee, Dayna was selected to be in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Program located at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Terence Blanchard. He studied there for two years, and while there Dayna studied and played with, among others: Dave Holland, Kenny Barron, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, Lewis Nash, Mark Turner, Christian McBride, Carl Allen and Terence Blanchard, who was the artistic director of the program. In the spring of 2003 the Monk group made a recording featuring Terence Blanchard, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter. The recording featured some of the best compositions and arrangements made by group throughout their two years spent together.

Since graduating from the Monk Institute in 2003, Dayna has been performing and teaching actively. He plays regularly in San Francisco and New York City and has performed in recent times with Salvador and Carlos Santana, Kenny Barron, Roy Hargrove, OZOmatli, Patrice Rushen, Tom Harrell, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Jeff Parker, Freddie Hubbard, Steve Coleman, Oliver Lake, Eric Gravatt, Ndugu Chancler, Idris Muhammad, Bobby Short, and Josh Roseman. Dayna also plays upright bass and has performed with Stefon Harris, Marcus Belgrave, Sonny Fortune, Roy Hargrove and Natalie Douglas.

Instrument(s): saxophone, bass.


Teachers: Terence Blanchard, Wayne Shorter, Hal Crook, Billy Pierce, Dann Zinn.

Influences: Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, John Scofield, Charlie Rouse, Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Mark Turner, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, Steve Coleman, Sarah Vaughan, Charlie Haden, Betty Carter, Ralph Moore, Benny Green, Jerry Bergonzi, Luther Vandross, Bach, Arnold Schoenberg, Radiohead, Bjork, Yellowjackets............ do i still have room?

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... When I first saw Joshua Redman live at Yoshi's at age thirteen in 1992. Ridiculously great concert that had me on the floor. I had just started playing saxophone two month prior and that was just the inspiration I needed to fall in love with improvised music.

Your dream band: I honestly feel that my newly released record is my "dream band," with John Scofield, Taylor Eigsti, Ben Street, and Eric Harland. I guess my next dream band would be something like Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Hal Crook (trombone).

Did you know... My favorite sax is actually the baritone sax, "the unsung horn."

What is in the near future? Writing music for trio which includes a drummer, organist/pianist and myself on sax and bass. I intend to explore the wide range of textures available with this group while keeping that "three's company" intimate feeling.

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