Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Dayna Stephens: Gratitude (Contagious)

Editor's Choice

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Dana Stephens (photo by Gulnara Khamatova)
Dayna Stephens (Photo by Gulnara Khamatova)
Dayna Stephens: "Gratitude"
Dayna Stephens: "Gratitude"

Dayna Stephens’ saxophone playing, and the music he makes on Gratitude, is elemental. His big, warm lines are full of notes and intent but also gusts of wind, bodies of water. And his arrangements, fleshed out by bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Eric Harland and either guitarist Julian Lage or pianist Brad Mehldau in the chordal seat, are wide-open, enthusiastically anticipating the next moment. Peering at what’s ahead, in fact, is especially important to Stephens at this moment—Gratitude celebrates his victory over kidney disease.

Just as successful as this album’s main vibe are the one-off experiments peppered throughout. Lage’s “Woodside Waltz”—the leader brings just one original to the proceedings—is a country song that evokes Bill Frisell and features both the guitarist and Mehldau. Pat Metheny’s “We Had a Sister” finds Stephens on EWI, lending an ethereal shade to the ballad. And “Clouds” exhibits an electronic-music influence and ends with only unsettling washes of sound.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published