Guitar Sessions: Leni Stern Trio
Leni Stern is an unstoppable force. Longtime fans know her from a successful jazz career in which she seemingly performed on the stage of every major festival and legendary club with heavyweight artists such as Dennis Chambers, Paul Motian, and Bill Frisell.
Everything changed in 2005, when Stern was first invited to perform at the Festival au Desert in Timbuktu, Mali, where she met Bassekou Kouyate and his wife Ami Sacko. Embraced by their family and their bands, she dove headfirst into the traditions of West African guitar and later the n’goni (African banjo). It was a natural path from jazz.
Joined by her regular trio members, Mamadou Ba and Alioune Faye, Stern pays humble homage to the drum patterns of traditional Senegalese folk songs in her compositions, creating a new repertoire of cross-pollinated ideas and reverence to jazz, blues, Africa, and the folk music of today’s diaspora. Stern’s goal is to trace the interconnectedness of music, history, and our humanity.
As a bandleader, Stern has composed and released 21 albums. She has toured the world as a teacher and performer, ensuring that the next generation of musicians are inspired to continue the cultural exchange that is central to Stern’s musical intentions.