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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bay Area Jazz Cats Put On All-Star Lineup to Support Saxophonist Dayna Stephens

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 1:40 PM

  • Steve Sheraton
You've probably never seen so many Bay Area jazz musicians on a concert program. This Fourth of July, an All-Star Bay Area musicians lineup of four bands with 22 musicians total -- including Marcus Shelby, Lavay Smith, John Santos, Ray Obiedo, and Faye Carol -- will perform at Yoshi's San Francisco.

What got all these local jazz cats in the same room? Or rather, who? The answer is 33-year-old Bay Area saxophonist Dayna Stephens, whose performances and recordings have earned praise from the New York Times and other publications. Unfortunately, the occasion is not one to celebrate.

The concert is a health care benefit for Stephens, who is waiting on a kidney transplant and faces costly antirejection medications (over $4,000 a month) for an indefinite time.

Stephens was born in Brooklyn, but raised in the Bay Area. He started playing the saxophone at age 13 and studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston as well as the USC Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

Dayna Stephens: Beginning of an Endless Happy Monday

Stephens was diagnosed with kidney disease at age 19 and has to be on dialysis 13 hours a day. Despite the circumstances, he continues to perform, and is working on a new CD which is slated to come out in January.

Stephanie Dalton, concert organizer and director of Urban Music Presents, told SF Weekly that it was easy to get the musicians to play at the benefit, because "everyone wanted to help."

"Dayna's a very gentle person, kind, giving, conscientious, dedicated," she says. "I mean, he's all the best things you could ask for in a person." She hopes that the concert's proceeds will help Stephens focus on what he loves -- teaching and performing music.

The Benefit Concert is at Yoshi's on July 4 from 8 to 11 p.m.

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