Dayna Stephens gives a stellar show at the Stanford Jazz Festival

July 30, 2013, 1:12 p.m.
Photo by Christopher Drukker
Photo by Christopher Drukker

“We’re a quartet plus one,” joked tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens.

After a slightly erroneous introduction of the jazz quintet, Stephens and pianist Taylor Eigsti, trumpeter Mike Olmos, bassist Zach Ostroff and drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath began their otherwise flawless performance at a Stanford Jazz Festival concert on July 28 at Dinkelspiel Auditorium.

Opening with the upbeat toe-tapping “Smoking Gun,” the quintet cleverly reeled in the audience for a two-and-a-half-hour musical spell. Performing nine songs in all, the group exceeded the sum of already impressive individual performances — Olmos pulled high notes and breakneck turns while Heath drank in the audience’s energy, playing with more craze as the night went on. Listening and watching this quintet perform felt as if we had caught a glimpse of five musicians having an intense private jazz jam session, with the multi-generational group exuding friendship and good harmonies.

However, the best moments of the night all came from Stephens and Eigsti’s chilling duet, which was titled “Haydn’s Largo.” The song’s purity and honesty left a nearly full house silent, while moments when Stephen’s saxophone barely let out a note left the audience on edge.

This concert proved that the Stanford Jazz Festival not only appeals to the all-knowing jazz connoisseur, but also to those who just want to find out what jazz is all about. With a set as spell-binding as the quintet’s was, the upcoming Stanford Jazz Festival concert artists have a lot to live up to in the next couple of weeks.

This concert was a part of the ongoing Stanford Jazz Festival, which will run until its culminating performance by the Chucho Valdes Quintet on August 10. Check the Stanford Jazz Festival’s website ( for ticket prices and more details.


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