Friday, November 1, 2013

CD Review: Leni Stern's 'Jelell'

Leni Stern

German-born and US-based, Leni Stern, brings us an inviting mix of North African guitar songs with hearty percussion and bluesy grooves. Leni plays the guitar, baritone guitar, n'goni, and provides lead vocals. However, additional musical accompaniment is provided by Mamadou Ba on bass, Alioune Faye on djembe, calabash, and percussion, Sabar Percussion Ensemble, Haurona Samake on camele n'goni, Leo Genovese on keys, Idriss Diop and Jazz on vocals, and Marieme on backing vocals. The music is recorded in Senegal, mixed in Mali, and enjoyed by the world-over. "Babacar" is a carefree romp through the desert with ambulating beats, experimental blues guitar stylings, and a myriad of other intriguing sounds produced in subtle ways. "Jelell," which means 'take it,' contains heady percussion and jazzy nuances with Leni's vocals leading the charge. "Dimbali Ma" begins with up-tempo percussion and folksy vocalizations by Leni. Her smoky vocals and emotive deliveries are paramount. The sweet guitar sounds emanate with such a strong life force on this track and others. There is a good mix of instrumental and vocal tracks throughout, but the combination of traditional percussion and up-beat guitar, bass, and keys move the music into another dimension. Great stuff. ~ Matthew Forss

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