The Jazz Discovery Series Comes To James Weldon Johnson Park
JACKSONVILLE, FLA., May 9, 2023: Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park and the Jazz Discovery Series are proud to present Dayna Stephens in Concert on Sunday, June 18, 2023, at 5pm. The concert will feature Mr. Stephens, a world-renowned saxophonist, composer and arranger, as well as The John Lumpkin Institute and Jacksonville Arts And Music School student Jazz performers.
The concert will celebrate James Weldon Johnson’s Birthday, Juneteenth, and Father’s Day, all occurring that weekend.
“What better way to celebrate James Weldon Johnson’s Birthday with a world class and multi-generational Jazz concert” said John Lumpkin, founder of The Jazz Discovery Series. “Jazz gets its roots from the ragtime styles that James Weldon Johnson and his brother John Rosemond Johnson were creating during their time in New York City, just after Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing was first performed here in Jacksonville.”
Dayna Stephens is 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. A master of tenor, alto, soprano and baritone saxophones, and 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. 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.
The concert is free to attend and family friendly. Food Trucks and concessions will be available for purchase. Some seating will be available, but concertgoers are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.
Jazz Discovery Series on Sunday, June 18, 2023 at 5pm at James Weldon Johnson Park 135 W Monroe Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202.
ABOUT THE JAZZ DISCOVERY SERIES:
The Jazz Discovery Series (JDS) is a concert program that is designed to impact the community by sharing jazz history and future talents and to encourage the next generation of jazz enthusiasts. World class artists in this series will inspire young creatives with masterclasses and clinics as well as headline each concert.
Following his graduation in 2009, JDS’s founder John Arthur Lumpkin II wanted to create a program that would not only help young jazz artists in the industry but also enrich the Jacksonville, FL community. He used his connections throughout his career to help build the foundation of his vision. In the summer of June 2015, his vision manifested in his hometown. He has worked within establishments such as The Ritz Theatre, Young Women Young Men’s Leadership Academy, and the University of North Florida.
As a non-profit 501(c)3 the Jazz Discovery Series is able to give more to the young musicians in Jacksonville, FL through donation-based concerts and masterclasses. The goal is to inspire and innovate the local community while providing a platform for generations to jazz artists. This is the Jazz Discovery Series.
The desired outcome is “To create an artistic platform where people can communicate on a level without bias and total transparency.”
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ABOUT DAYNA STEPHENS:
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.
NPR’s Kevin Whitehead had this to say about his 9th album Liberty, “Dayna Stephens can cry and rip it up on tenor, but at heart, he’s a streamlined melodic player. His handsome down-the-middle tone is not too heavy or light, though he can lean either way. His sound is sleek, with very light vibrato. And the lines he improvises are uncluttered and well-organized. His horn sings”.
J. Hunter of Nippertown says, “Stephens’ latest outing—recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s history-filled studio—delivers an elegant, uncompromising look at how less can definitely be more.” In describing Liberty’s trio format Jay N. Miller from The Patriot Ledger applauds, “while the concept may seem esoteric, the triumph of Stephens’ latest work is how accessible and even intoxicating it is.”
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 Al Foster, Idris Muhammad, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Billy Hart, Marcus Gilmore, Bill Stewart, Eric Harland, Johnathan Blake, Jaimeo Brown, Brian Blade, 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 Kenny Barron, Aaron Parks, Fred Hersch, Billy Childs, Geoffrey Keezer, Taylor Eigsti, Herbie Hancock, Muhal Richard Abrams, Brad Mehldau, and Gerald Clayton; trumpet players Roy Hargrove, Tom Harrell, Sean Jones, Terell Stafford, Philip Dizack, Ambrose Akinmusire, Michael Rodriguez, and Terence Blanchard; saxophone players Wayne Shorter, Walter Smith III, Mark Turner Jaleel Shaw, Ben Wendel, Chris Potter, and John Ellis; bass players Ben Street, Rufus Reid, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Joe Sanders, Linda Oh, Doug Weiss, Larry Grenadier and Harish Raghavan; vocalists Alicia Olatuja, Gretchen Parlato, Becca Stevens and Sachal Vasandani; and guitar players Julian Lage, Charles Altura, Mike Moreno, Lage Lund, Pete Bernstein and John Scofield, 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, alto, soprano and baritone saxophones, and 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 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.
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. He currently teaches at Manhattan School of Music and William Paterson University in Wayne New Jersey. As an undergraduate, he was diagnosed with the rare kidney disease focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) which resulted in a six year course of dialysis that began in 2009, grounding him in the New York area and preventing him from touring internationally until he received a kidney transplant in October 2015 from a donation chain facilitated by his aunt. Aside from his own projects Dayna’s label Contagious Music released “Yekum”, by pianist/composer Eden Ladin’s which was his debut recording released in 2018.
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About Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park
Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park is a nonprofit organization founded in 2014 and contracted with the City of Jacksonville to revitalize the city’s first and most historic public park. James Weldon Johnson Park is located in the heart of downtown Jacksonville, adjacent to City Hall, the main branch of the Jacksonville Public Library, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Our mission is to transform James Weldon Johnson Park into a modern, urban space that engages diverse communities and restores vitality to our city’s public square. We accomplish this by adding and maintaining landscaping and amenities and providing daily programming. Our park ambassadors and security welcome and share information with our guests while ensuring that James Weldon Johnson Park is clean and safe. Our programming is informed and supported by a variety of community partnerships.