Tag Archives: Dayna Stephens

Benefit for Dayna Stephens, top saxophonist, BHS alumnus

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Dayna Stephens knows a thing or two about overcoming obstacles. As a standout tenor saxophonist at Alameda High in the mid-1990s, he and a friend took over the jazz ensemble when the school’s band director quit at the beginning of his junior year. Looking for more rigorous musical training, he transferred to Berkeley High his senior year, and quickly became one of the vaunted jazz program’s leading lights. These days he’s one of the most respected saxophonists on the New York scene, and he’s facing a far more daunting challenge than an AWOL teacher.

Diagnosed in with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) at 19, he’s long depended upon dialysis and has been on a kidney transplant wait-list for four years. Beloved by his peers as a person and a player, Stephens is at the center of an ongoing campaign, including a website, Help Dayna Stephens, to raise awareness about FSGS and funds for his medical expenses, which will run some $4,000 a month for anti-rejection medications alone. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley sings, Jazzschool is hub that makes it happen

becca stevens
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The word is out on the musicians’ grapevine. When it comes to vocals, the Jazzschool has become an invaluable forum for transmitting the tradition and presenting many of the most creative singers on the scene.

This weekend’s programming makes the case, with two rising stars from New York City offering concerts and workshops. Sachal Vasandani, a Chicago native who has quickly established himself as one of the most confident young male singers finding inspiration in jazz, performs Friday night and presents a vocal skills master class on Saturday afternoon.

With three releases on Mack Avenue since 2007, Vasandani has displayed a sharp ear for interesting material, a warm, deep-grained tone, and supple, relaxed phrasing at even the briskest tempos. He’s joined Friday by prodigious saxophonist Dayna Stephens, a Berkeley High grad who’s become a major force in New York City despite dealing with a life threatening medical condition. … Continue reading »

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