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.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.