"But Beautiful , the final track from saxophonist Dayna Stephens' debut album, summarizes his session. This modern mainstream performance centers on his warm tenor saxophone conversations, and includes seven originals as well as two standards. Pianist Taylor Eigsti, bassist Ben Street and drummer Eric Harland are seamlessly cohesive throughout and, with guests guitarist John Scofield on three tracks and trombonist Nick Vagenas on one, the disc has variety as well as creativity. When the leader or one of his partners step out, the groove gets under your skin and into your bones, revealing an intuitive love for communicating with serenity and lyricism.
A graduate of both Berklee College of Music and the Monk Institute of Jazz, Stephens grew up in the San Francisco Bay area where he planted his roots with Berkeley High's noted jazz program. At 28, he's one of a new breed of artists who respects tradition and training while searching for creative outlets. Having a unique sound and creating out-of-the-ordinary musical scenery fits his plan; however, Stephens isn't about to sacrifice his core values for the sake of getting noticed. While there's considerable freedom in each interpretation, the saxophonist and his companions fold their display within the realm of modern jazz. Consonant harmonies and agreeable rhythms come with a touch of complexity and offer just enough adventure to satisfy.
By using a conservative approach and seasoning his work with creative sparks, Stephens has developed a winning formula that gets noticed for its quality and remembered for its beauty.
Track Listing: Beginning of an Endless Happy Monday; Smoking Gun; Teeth; The Lost and Found; Contagious; There
Personnel: Dayna Stephens: tenor saxophone; Taylor Eigsti: piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano; Ben Street: double bass; Eric Harland: drums; John Scofield: guitar (1, 2, 8); Nick Vagenas: valve trombone (7).