Dayna Stephens is globally recognized as a saxophonist, composer and arranger, and is the first place recipient of the 2019 DownBeat Critics Poll in the category Rising Star—Tenor Saxophone. His compositions challenge traditional harmony and push phrasing in unlikely directions. A master of tenor, alto, soprano, and baritone saxophones, Dayna’s ability to play a range of different instruments has allowed him to stretch as a composer and arranger. He has traveled and recorded with world-renown musicians in numerous legendary clubs such as Village Vanguard, Blue Note Milano, Philharmonie de Paris, Yoshi's, Red Rocks, and more.
Through the years, Dayna has created and interpreted pieces for San Francisco’s Peninsula Symphony Orchestra, Berklee College of Music, and the Oakland East Bay Symphony—for the latter of which he wrote a wide-screen arrangement of Dave Brubeck’s “The Duke” and his own piece “Haden’s Largo” (for Charlie Haden) that premiered at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre for its 2013 Celebration of the Music of Dave Brubeck Concert. Dayna released his 10th album, Right Now! Live at the Village Vanguard, in 2020 which featured Aaron Parks, Ben Street, and Greg Hutchinson.
A graduate of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, Dayna 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.