Home » Jazz Articles » Dayna Stephens Quartet: Right Now! Live At The Village Vanguard

Album Review

Dayna Stephens Quartet: Right Now! Live At The Village Vanguard


Sign in to view read count
Dayna Stephens Quartet: Right Now! Live At The Village Vanguard
New York City's Village Vanguard has a history. Founded by Max Gordon in 1935 and, after his passing in 1989, operated by his wife Lorraine until her death in 2018, the venue became famous for launching jazz careers and hosting the recordings of more than a hundred jazz albums, including saxophonist Sonny Rollins' A Night At The Village Vanguard (Blue Note, 1957), pianist Bill Evans' Sunday At The Village Vanguard (Riverside, 1961) and saxophonist John Coltrane's Live At The Village Vanguard (Impulse, 1962).

Reedman Dayna Stephens, Downbeat Magazine's 2019 "Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist," adds his voice to the Vanguard sound with the two-CD set Right Now! Live At The Village Vanguard, with his all-star quartet, featuring pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Ben Street and drummer Gregory Hutchinson.

There is something about the sound of the place which is hard to pin down—warm and intimate and right-there-in-your-face immediate; Stephens and his group immerse themselves in the Vanguard vibe, laying down eleven of the leader's compositions—along with pianist Park's "Planting Flowers"—with a relaxed and timeless group dynamic, neither dated nor modernistic (for the most part), but music for right now, from guys who sound like they have been working together for fifteen years.

Stephens has developed his own sound, drawing seeming influence from saxophonists Lester Young and Stan Getz—a cool, smooth, confident articulation wrapped in the sometimes edgy, always intricate rhythms of his on-stage cohorts. A surprise which pulls the sound in a modern direction is his use of the EWI (electronic wind instrument) on two tunes, "Radio-Active Earworm," which sounds like a twenty-second century piece of religious music, commissioned for performance in a cathedral on Ganymede (recorded, for the time being, in New York City) and the show-closer, "Blakonian Groove," a cyborg dance-floor piece, wrapping up yet another fine Village Vanguard recording.

Track Listing

CD 1: Smoking Gun; Tarifa; Ran; Contagious; Radio-Active Earworm; Faith Leap; Lesson One. CD 2: Loosy Goosy; Planting Flowers; JFK International; You Are Me Blues; The Beginning Of An Endless Happy Monday; Blakonian Groove.


Dayna Stephens: saxophone; Aaron Parks: piano; Ben Street: bass; Gregory Hutchinson: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Dayna Stephens: saxophones, EWI14000S.

Album information

Title: Right Now! Live At The Village Vanguard | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Contagious Music

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album



Blue Note Re:imagined II
Various Artists
Soul Food
Christopher Parker
The Way of the Groove
Ben Patterson


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.