Leni Stern Sabani

Leni SternSabani
Sabani represents new musical growth under a self-imposed fire for Leni Stern. A far cry from the large-scale production and heavy overdubs of her past releases, it's a beautifully stripped down collection of thoughtful songs boasting graceful and dynamic instrumental accompaniment. After two years spent living, learning and making music in Mali with some of its finest musicians, Stern enlisted two close friends to showcase and share the depth of Malian blues with her listeners: Haruna Samake on n'goni and Mamadou Kone on percussion. The trio's acoustic sound is earthy and sublime. Fingerpicked guitar passages on "Still Bleeding" pull on heartstrings as they interact with flowing rhythms played by Kone on the calabash. Droning acoustic guitar provides a stark backdrop for lively n'goni flourishes and Stern's emotive voice throughout "Like A Thief." The enchanting group vocals are the perfect send off for the lamenting ballad. Sabani evolved from impromptu jams before rehearsals and in between shows while touring with Salif Keita. Stern's guitar solo on "The Cat Stole the Moon" showcases some of the jazz licks she honed years ago in NYC, where she played in a group with Bill Frisell and the late Paul Motian. Sabani is a heartfelt collaboration honouring the intense and intimate connection Stern has developed with West African music over the last half-decade. (Independent)