Dayna Stephens | Gratitude

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Gratitude

by Dayna Stephens

Beautiful soothing melody-driven Jazz played with precision, nuance and grace
Genre: Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Emilie
7:55 $0.99
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2. In a Garden
6:07 $0.99
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3. Amber Is Falling
8:14 $0.99
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4. Woodside Waltz
5:44 $0.99
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5. We Had a Sister
6:57 $0.99
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6. The Timbre of Gratitude
4:33 $0.99
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7. Isfahan
2:49 $0.99
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8. Don't Mean a Thing at All
3:32 $0.99
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9. Clouds
5:48 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Of the many ways one could express Gratitude, I struggle forming adequate words. When expressing such an important emotion they never seem to quite capture the essence of whats really burning to be understood. The seemingly infinite possible mixtures of notes rhythms and textures given to us by musical expression, however, while still not 100% representative of my personal experienced Gratitude, shines a much brighter light on how humbled and lucky I am to be surrounded by so many angels of compassion and inspiration. It’s been a long night walking through dense forrest, but being surrounded by a sea of candles held by so many gracious people singing "the sun is on its way up” helped illuminate the path to a better place. For them and you I hope this music comes close to expressing how eternally grateful I am for the opportunity given to extend my journey of inspired existence.
One thing that unites every song on this record is they were all at one time or another ear worms that stuck around for a while, and often returned for lengthy stays. Another uniting factor is that they all have to my ear enchanting beautiful singable melodies, and give me a strong sense of sentiment. When we recorded these songs I was conflictingly full of hope peace and uncertainty. Hope that my years would be extended, peace that I was lucky to have made it that far with lots a great moments and experiences despite the circumstances, yet uncertainty because it wasn’t yet clear how the journey was going to continue. Now after so much warmth love peace and connection has been given to me by countless I am saturated with gratitude, perhaps completing a circle that started with those ingredients.
Dayna Stephens

The 1st song Emilie was introduced to me by violinist/composer Olivier Manchon. He dedicates it to his sister Emilie and its got a nice simple melody that when combined with the plesantly unexpected harmony create a beautiful song to connect with.

In A Garden was written by Aaron Parks, and i’ve had the pleasure of playing this song with him on several occasions. It often paints scenes for me one would find in a fantasy movie. Some of the visuals in the Robin Williams movie What Dreams May Come come to mind.

Amber Is Falling (Red and Yellow) was written by vocalist/composer Michelle Amador, and has been on my favorites list since the mid two thousandzies when we played it in San Francisco in her group Michelle Amador and the True Believers.

Woodside Waltz refers to a city in Northern California called Woodside which has tons of great scenic views of the SF bay through tall redwood trees. While recording it we discovered the recording studio called the Club House Rhinebeck NY had a tack piano which was perfect for bringing out the essence of this gem written Julian Lage. We were all even willing to all tune down our instruments a dozen or so cents flat to match the turning of the piano which hadn’t been tuned in some time.

We Had A Sister is a hauntingly beautiful song by Pat Metheny that I heard as a young beginning saxophone student on Joshua Redman’s second release entitle “Wish”. It’s a song i’ve always wanted to play.

The Timbre of Gratitude is the only original song of mine. In a loose way the happy sounding starts of each new section represent the many positive moments of encouragement I received throughout my journey thus far.

Isfahan is one of many masterpieces by the great Billy Stayhorn. I’m reminded of Joe Henderson's version he recorded on his album dedicated to Stayhorn. I really admired how personal and intimate his playing was which is why i felt it was a good idea to do this one trio with Larry and Julian.

Don’t Mean a Thing at All is a song written by vocalist/Song writer Rebecca Martin. I first heard her sing it duo with Larry Grenadier and immediately fell in love with its melody and lyric.

Clouds is one title for two songs written by different composers. The first version was written by Bassist/Composer Massimo Biolcati
and one I’ve played many times while we were both in the Monk Institute. The melody gets is full of nice intricate surprises. The second version was written by drummer/producer/composer Louis Cole and this was actually my introduction to his unique magical sonic world, which I have since become a huge fan off.

About Dayna Stephens
Since the release of his 2007 disc, The Timeless Now (CTA), Dayna Stephens has emerged as one of his generation’s most distinguished modern jazz tenor saxophonists and composers. He hones a sinewy yet supple tone that unfurl poised improvisations with melodic ingenuity. As a composer, Stephens continues to build a multifaceted oeuvre filled with pieces that are cinematic in dynamic scope as they incorporate and suspenseful dialogue and interplay.
In addition to establishing himself as a leading early 21st century jazz voice, Stephens has collaborated with an impressive array of jazz musicians, including pianists Brad Mehldau, Taylor Eigsti, Muhal Richard Abrams, Kenny Barron, Theo Hill, Gerald Clayton and Aaron Parks; drummers Brian Blade, Al Foster, Idris Muhammad, Marvin “Boogaloo” Smith, Eric Harland, Matt Slocum and Justin Brown; trumpeters Roy Hargrove, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Michael Rodriguez; saxophonists Jaleel Shaw, Ben Wendel, Chris Potter, John Ellis and Walter Smith III; bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Joe Sanders, Linda Oh, Doug Weiss and Larry Grenadier; vocalists Gretchen Parlato, Becca Stevens and Sachal Vasandani; guitarists Julian Lage, Lage Lund and Charles Altura.
The New York Times heralded Stephens as a “must see,” and wrote, “Everything flows with unusual fluency and makes you feel rewarded,” regarding his improvisational facilities. “When I’m playing, I’m really trying to make something new happen,” explains Stephens about his approach to improvisation. “It often happens by playing unintentional notes. That leads me to somewhere. It’s always trying to come up with something singable.”
Stephens has released five discs as a leader on the CTA, Sunnyside and Criss-Cross labels. Noted producer Matt Pierson shepherd his most recent disc, Peace (Sunnyside, 2014), which featured Mehldau, Lage, Grenadier and Harland. Its follow-up, Gratitude (Sunnyside), showcasing the same lineup, is slated to release in summer 2015. Also slated for 2015, is Reminiscent (Criss Cross), featuring Smith III, Parks and drummer Rodney Green.
In collaboration with childhood friend and pianist Taylor Eigsti, Stephens penned large-scaled compositions for San Francisco’s Peninsula Symphony Orchestra. Stephens also wrote big band charts for the Berklee College of Music and a wide-screen arrangement of Dave Brubeck’s “The Duke,” for the Oakland East Bay Symphony, which premiered in 2013 at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre for its “Celebration of the Music of Dave Brubeck” concert.
For NPR’s A Blog Supreme, Eigsti said this about Stephens’ compositional acumen: “Dayna has a way of using harmonic subtleties to create unpredictable emotions throughout his compositions and arrangements. The way he composes is genuine, and he puts his personality into all of his tunes. His beautiful energy as a human being comes through his compositions very vividly and honestly.”
Born Aug. 1, 1978 in Brooklyn, N.Y., Stephens grew up in the California Bay Area. While he cites his father, Rodney Stephens, with helping develop his love for music, it’s Elbert Bullock, Stephens’ maternal grandfather, whom he credits as being his first significant music hero. Bullock played the saxophone professionally in the 1950s; and it’s his sound that Stephens often aims to capture. “When I first started playing saxophone, I encouraged [Bullock] to take out his horn for the first time in a while,” Stephens recalls. “The first thing I heard was this big, warm vibrato. That warmth is something that I’ve been chasing after ever since.”
Stephens began playing the saxophone at age 12 and eventually studied under noted saxophonist Dann Zinn, who imparted the wisdom of daily practice. As Stephens progressed, he enrolled in various jazz programs at UC Berkley, Oakland’s Golden Gate Library and the Stanford Jazz Workshop, where he studied under Kenny Barron. Stephens also played at the Berkeley High School’s big band while picking up professional gigs with such local figures as pianist Ed Kelly and trumpeter Khalil Shaheed.
After graduating high school in 1997, Stephens attended Boston’s Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship before enrolling in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (based in Los Angeles), in which he studied with trumpeter Terence Blanchard, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Herbie Hancock. Unfortunately, it was when Stephens first embarked on his college studies that he was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSG), a rare kidney disease. A determined Stephens, nevertheless, soldiered on and excelled at both aforementioned music institutions.
Stephens now resides in Paterson, N.J. and plays a lot in New York City’s jazz scene at such venues as Smalls, The Village Vanguard and the Jazz Standard. He complements his involvement with jazz by teaching at Manhattan’s New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music and at Stanford University. “I get as much out of teaching as I do practicing, because it forces me to put all of my ideas into cohesive sentences that I can be transferred to someone else,” he says.

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