Saxophonist, composer, and educator Dayna Stephens reflects on our similarities over our differences with his latest album Closer Than We Think.

The album comprises compositions by Stephens and his band members — guitarist Emmanuel Michael, bassist Kanoa Mendenhall and drummer Jongkuk Kim with a guest feature by trumpeter Jeremy Pelt — along with a selection of covers.

For his 12th album as a bandleader, Stephens headed into the studio with a brand new cast of musicians spanning generations and continents and is making his debut with a new record label, Cellar Music Group.

Closer Than We Think is notable for its distinct lack of piano, which was inspired by the timeless Sonny Rollins album The Bridge. “My father bought me The Bridge and I fell in love, recognizing the seriousness, and also sometimes playful and humorous expressions that I felt from Sonny,” Stephens says. “That level of intimacy, warmth and feeling of limitless possibilities is the source of my addiction to this music.”

Here’s the track listing:

  1. Bubbly
  2. The Nomad
  3. Ryland
  4. Scrutiny
  5. Placate
  6. ESP (Lower Volume)
  7. A New Spring
  8. Closer Than We Think
  9. Blue Poles
  10. Back Home
  11. Placate (Reprise)

Dayna Stephens’s Closer Than We Think is out April 5, 2024, on Cellar Music Group.