Nowadays Stéphane Payen is mainly identified for his work with Thôt (since 1996) and The Workshop (since 2011). More recently, he has recorded All Set, a quartet he co-leads with Ingrid Laubrock and Morgan The Pirate (a sextet project dedicated to the music of Lee Morgan). At the same time, he performs and records in duo with Guillaume Orti, Daniel Erdmann, with Sylvain Cathala's Print, Twins (with Fred Jackson Jr, Edward Perraud, Frank Rosaly or Makaya Mac Craven as part of the project The Bridge), Doug Hammond's quartet, Alban Darche's Orphicube, or Makoto Sato, Izumi Kimura, Ronan Guilfoyle ...
As a composer, he's at the crossroads of different aesthetics (jazz, contemporary music, ...). In addition to the music dedicated to the ensembles he conducts, Stéphane Payen has notably written Dodecahedron for the European Saxophone Ensemble (12 saxophones) and Spring Waves for piano 4 hands (for the Duo Reynaldo). In 2008, the saxophone quartet Xasax created Game. He has also been working for several years on the arrangement of repertoires by 20th century composers such as Hans Werner Henze, György Ligeti, Charles Ives, Luciano Berio ... His writing is also strongly impacted by certain aspects of Carnatic music (South India), Sabar (Senegal) or the Pygmy music of the Central African Republic. He is also a composer for educational purposes.
Also very active as a teacher, he has been teaching since 2010 at the CRD of Montreuil and since 2019 at the Pôle Aliénor (Pôle Supérieur de Poitiers). In addition, he has been co-leading (with Barak Schmool) the F-ire Workshops at City University (London) for 12 years and regularly leads workshops and/or master classes in France and abroad (Royal Academy in London, Sibelius Academy in Helsinky, EJMA in Lausanne, Royal Irish Academy and Newpark Music Center in Dublin, Bruckner Conservatory in Linz, Dimajazz Festival in Constantine, Umea Jazz Festival in Sweden …).
From 2009 to 2016, he co-directed the publishing company Independent Border Editions with the aim of creating an international and independent database for the preservation of musical repertoires. This project will finally happen in 2021 through the projects of In'n Out, a structure of which he is the artistic director.
"As always with Stéphane Payen, (...) it is sophisticated, and very free, in the same manner. It's exciting, especially if you listen to it more often" Xavier Prévost - DNJ