Dayna Stephens and Ezra Weiss are teaming up again to present a house concert featuring Ez’s amazing sextet! This concert is not to be missed!
- Dayna Stephens - tenor sax, compositions
- Ezra Weiss - piano, compositions
- Farnell Newton - trumpet
- John Nastos - alto sax
- Jon Shaw - bass
- Christopher Brown - drums
Recent recipient of the number-two spot for the 2017 DownBeat Critics Poll in the category “Rising Star—Tenor Saxophone”, Dayna Stephens has garnered critical acclaim over the years for his playing, compositions and arrangements. DownBeat’s James Hale describes Gratitude, the saxophonist/composer’s eighth release as a leader, as a “highly cinematic listening experience, full of roiling seas and shifting skies.” Brad Faberman cites Dayna as the JazzTimes Editor’s Pick, writing, “His big, warm lines are full of notes and intent but also gusts of wind, bodies of water.” A review from JazzScene Magazine’s Alex W. Rodriguez praises the record’s distinctive personnel: “This album showcases some of today’s finest musicians at the height of their craft, anchored by Stephens’ humble magnetism. The musicians exude a patient, persistent quality in their collective exploration, with the melodies unfolding into searching improvisations throughout.”
Playing with pureness of intention, Dayna admits he’s always searching to find what’s “singable.” That search often results in live improvisations and written compositions that challenge traditional concepts of harmony, pushing phrasing and sending beautiful and unintentional melodies in unlikely directions. Dayna’s soulful lines have resonated through the halls of such internationally renowned venues as the Village Vanguard, Blue Note Jazz Club, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Birdland, Yoshi’s, The Blue Whale, Marians Jazzroom in Switzerland, Blue Note Milano, Philharmonie de Paris, Le Duc des Lombards, Red Rocks and San Francisco Jazz Center.
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 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 Brian Blade, Al Foster, Idris Muhammad, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Billy Hart, Marcus Gilmore, Bill Stewart, Marvin “Boogaloo” Smith, Eric Harland, Matt Slocum, Johnathan Blake, Jaimeo Brown, Victor Lewis, Lewis Nash, Jorge Rossy, Jeff Ballard and Justin Brown.
Dayna has traveled and recorded with a cross section of such distinctive voices, including pianists Brad Mehldau, Fred Hersch, Billy Childs, Geoffrey Keezer, Taylor Eigsti, Muhal Richard Abrams, Kenny Barron, Theo Hill, Gerald Clayton and Aaron Parks; trumpet players Roy Hargrove, Tom Harrell, Sean Jones, Terell Stafford, Brian Lynch, Ambrose Akinmusire and Michael Rodriguez; saxophone players Wayne Shorter, Jaleel Shaw, Ben Wendel, Chris Potter, John Ellis and Walter Smith III; bass players Ben Street, Rufus Reid, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Joe Sanders, Linda Oh, Doug Weiss, Larry Grenadier and Harish Raghavan; vocalists Gretchen Parlato, Becca Stevens and Sachal Vasandani; and guitar players John Scofield, Julian Lage, Charles Altura, Mike Moreno, Lage Lund, Pete Bernstein and Carlos Santana.
To hear his music is to fall in love with whatever instrument Dayna uses to channel his ideas. Through a tendency toward experimenting with both tone and texture in a harmonic context, he embraces a range of instruments—and their varying degrees of warmth—including double bass. A master of tenor, soprano and baritone saxophones and, more recently, Nyle Steiner’s EWI (electric wind instrument), Dayna’s openness and sensitivity as an artist have allowed him to stretch as a composer and arranger. Through the years, he has earned opportunities to create and interpret pieces for, among other aggregations, San Francisco’s Peninsula Symphony Orchestra, Berklee College of Music and the Oakland East Bay Symphony—the latter of which he wrote a wide-screen arrangement of Dave Brubeck’s “The Duke” that premiered at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre for its 2013 Celebration of the Music of Dave Brubeck Concert.
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. As an undergraduate, he was diagnosed with the rare kidney disease focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). In June 2009, Dayna began a course of dialysis that lasted for six years, grounding him in the New York area and preventing him from touring internationally until his aunt stepped in to donate her kidney for a transplant in October 2015.
And with the release from physical suffering, arrives the jubilation and humble awareness of an interconnected self that helped shape Gratitude, Dayna’s first self-produced recording on his brand new label Contagious Music. Featuring compositions that share soulful and sophisticated melodies, including music from Aaron Parks, Pat Metheny and Dayna himself, Gratitude serves as a gentle and powerful awakening of a universal spirit in an era of division. Personnel includes Brad Mehldau, Julian Lage, Larry Grenadier and Eric Harland. Dayna’s label Contagious Music will be releasing pianist/composer Eden Ladin’s debut recording in October.
Composer/pianist Ezra Weiss has created some of the most personal and compelling music heard today. He has released six albums as a bandleader: The Five A.M. Strut (2003), Persephone (2005), Get Happy (2007), The Shirley Horn Suite (2010), Our Path To This Moment (2012), and Before You Know It [Live in Portland](2014). All of these CD’s have received substantial national and international acclaim from the press, and have spent significant time on the JazzWeek Radio Charts.
Additionally, Ezra wrote the music for the Portland Jazz Composer’s Ensemble’s multimedia concert and recording, From Maxville To Vanport (2018). He also wrote the big band arrangements for Derek Hines’ recording The Long Journey Home (2017). Further, he has composed and/or arranged music for Billy Hart, Jeff Baker, Darrell Grant, Thara Memory, Leon Lee Dorsey, Stan Bock, and Renato Caranto, among others.
Ezra currently leads his own big band and sextet, performing at major jazz festivals and clubs throughout the U.S., including Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Smalls, the 55 Bar, and Tonic in NYC; Ryles in Boston; Nighttown in Cleveland; Chris’ Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia; The Triple Door in Seattle; Jimmy Mak’s in Portland; and the Catalina Bar and Grill in Los Angeles. He has performed with Billy Hart, Dayna Stephens, Greg Bandy, Michael Philip Mossman, Antonio Hart, Thara Memory, Renato Caranto, Devin Phillips, Marilyn Keller, Shirley Nanette, and Dennis Rowland, among others, and he co-led the Courtney Bryan/Ezra Weiss Jazz Orchestra in New York City.
Ezra has also composed music and lyrics to three children’s musicals: Alice in Wonderland: a Jazz Musical (2009) Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (2010), and Cinderella (2013). All of these musicals were designed to expose young children to jazz. Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella were each named one of the Top 10 Cast Albums of 2009 and 2013 respectively by TalkinBroadway.com.
Ezra has won the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award three times and has been listed in DownBeat Critics Polls in the Rising Star Arranger category. He holds a Bachelors in Jazz Composition from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a Masters in Jazz Piano Performance from Queens College. His teachers have included Wendell Logan, Neal Creque, and Bruce Barth. He currently lives with his wife and two sons in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches at Portland State University.
Please bring something to share and warm socks to wear.
This is a potluck jazz party event. Please bring something small to share with others (snacks, nuts, wine, etc.).
Please bring warm socks or house shoes. This is a shoes-off household.