Dayna Stephens is globally recognized as a saxophonist, composer, arranger and educator. His new quartet with Emmanuel Michael, Kanoa Mendenhall and Jongkuk Kim have a new recording set to be released on Cellar Live in early 2024.
A graduate of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, where he studied under artistic icons Terence Blanchard, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, Dayna began his formal studies with a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He currently teaches at Manhattan School of Music and William Paterson University in Wayne New Jersey.
He was the first place recipient of the 2019 DownBeat Critics Poll in the category Rising Star-Tenor Saxophone. His 10th album, Right Now! Live at the Village Vanguard, was released on October 3, 2020 and features Aaron Parks, Ben Street, and Greg Hutchinson. Earlier that year he released his 9th album Liberty to critical acclaim. It was his first trio recording that features Ben Street and Eric Harland. Both 2020 albums were produced by Matt Pierson and released on Dayna’s own label, Contagious Music. In collaboration with drummer Toronto native Anthony Fung the futuristic electronic band Pluto Juice was born and produced it’s self titled first release in July 2021.
Among Dayna’s latest endeavor is a collaborative group born in Toronto called Pluto Juice. Co-led with drummer Anthony Fung this futuristic electronic group features Dayna mostly on EWI and Keyboards along with Electric Bassist Rich Brown and Guitarist Andrew Marzotto band Pluto Juice was born and produced it’s self titled first release in July 2021. Rhythmic dialogue excites the Brooklyn-born, Bay Area-raised artist, as both an improviser and a written composer. His creative expression leads him to uncover different rhythmic interpretations of harmonic ideas as part of a spontaneous interchange with other players. These evolving interpretations help serve Dayna’s commitment to the authenticity of the moment, whether he’s playing live or in the studio. And his rhythmic inquiry has earned him the attention and admiration of some of the music’s most beloved drummers—many of whom have collaborated with him on recordings, on the bandstand and on the road, including Al Foster, Idris Muhammad, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Billy Hart, Marcus Gilmore, Bill Stewart, Eric Harland, Johnathan Blake, Jaimeo Brown, Brian Blade, Victor Lewis, Lewis Nash, Jorge Rossy, Jeff Ballard and Justin Brown.