It’s a relatively rare musical instrument, but for those who play it, the EWI opens up whole new worlds of possibility.

The EWI (pronounced ee-wee) is an electronic wind instrument that’s often associated with jazz fusion — but its use persists throughout jazz and other musical genres to this day. Basically, the EWI is to the saxophone, clarinet or flute what the keyboard is to the piano.

Some of the jazz saxophonists who have helped the EWI gain popularity are Michael Brecker, Bob Mintzer and Seamus Blake. One of today’s great champions of the EWI is Dayna Stephens, the New York-based reed player who has spent the last 15 years gaining global recognition for his musicianship and compositions. He’s a DownBeat Critics’ Poll winner who has released 10 recordings as a leader.

His latest project is Pluto Juice, a Toronto-based jazz quartet featuring drummer Anthony Fung, bassist Rich Brown and guitarist Andrew Marzotto. The group released their eponymous debut album in 2021, and the EWI’s wide range and otherworldly sounds are a perfect fit for the space-themed tunes.

Here, Dayna Stephens briefly explains why he loves the EWI.