Leni Stern In New Issue Of Jazziz Magazine: “Mythologist Joseph Campbell Would Have Loved Stern’s Music”; New Full-Length CD Readied

Leni Stern in new issue of Jazziz magazine: “Mythologist Joseph Campbell Would Have Loved Stern’s Music”

“The six-song EP is infused with rich African rhythms and touches of Indian raga”

New CD nearly done, to be released in 2010

Jazziz Magazine features Leni Stern’s global adventures in their Spring issue. In a ‘Prelude’ interview entitled ‘Postcards From the Edge’, Stern’s journeys to Madagascar, India and elsewhere are chronicled by writer Melissa Blazek: “Stern’s evolution from jazz guitarist to world-music gypsy began in 2007 when she volunteered to bring a band to a UNESCO-sponsored workshop for recording engineers in Mali.”

Critics have described Stern’s new EP, ‘Spirit In the Water’ as “a glorious triumph,” and remarked that Stern’s eclectic career has emerged as “one of modern music’s great adventures.” The EP was recorded, mixed and co-produced by Stern in Mali and by Andy Tommasi at Bedford Studio in NY.

Postcards from the Edge
Spring 2010, by Melissa Blazek
In the past few years, some of Leni Stern’s continuing music education took place during spontaneous gatherings under the starry skies of Mali. “The sessions go on until four in the morning, and they grow throughout the night by the roadsides,” the guitarist and singer says, comparing them to raucous communal pubs in other parts of the world. “There is hot tea served with a lot of sugar and hours-long jams, which happen every night, and where everybody knows everybody else.”

Stern’s latest offering, Spirit in the Water, is a musical postcard from the German-born musician’s further wanderings in Mali, Madagascar and elsewhere. The six-song EP is infused with rich African rhythms and touches of Indian raga. There are cautionary tales and songs that speak of mystical spirits and sorcerers — mythologist Joseph Campbell would have loved Stern’s music — sung in different dialects, including Wolof and Tamil, as well as English.

Stern has spent the first part of 2010 on tour with her friend, Malian singer Salif Keita, and Spirit in the Water is a prelude to a full album of new material due in the Spring. Stern’s evolution from jazz guitarist to world-music gypsy began in 2007 when she volunteered to bring a band to a UNESCO-sponsored workshop for recording engineers in Mali. The CD Alu Mayé came from those UNESCO sessions, and was quickly followed by another, Africa.

“Africa was the first time I discovered how to integrate where we come from and who we are,” Stern says. “On [Spirit in the Water], I go more in depth, with more familiar elements. The songs have evolved deeper into the many different cultures in Africa. Since then, I see that we all have the same feelings and are all part of the same universe.”

Among the highlights of Spirit in the Water are Stern’s haunting voice paired with kindred souls, such as revered Malian singer Ami Sacko and Nigerian talking-drum master Kofo. Throughout, both Stern and Bassekou Kouyate clearly converse through their ngonis — West African string instruments — an example of cross-cultural expression and improvisation at its finest.

“The stories of Africa, the whole magic of Africa, is much more unbroken than in our industrialized society,” Stern says. “But its dreams and intuition are disappearing, as fewer younger people are tuned to them. I really wanted to bring traditional instruments to these songs and was lucky to have a lot of older musicians take part in some of our recording sessions.” The songs are further warmed by being recorded on analog tape, with old tube mikes and no overdubs. “It was, from beginning to end, organic,” Stern adds, “like a documentary film.” —Melissa Blazek

‘Spirit In The Water’ precedes a full-length CD to be released in 2010. Stern is currently in the studio with Tommasi, assembling and mixing tracks for the upcoming album (for which Tommasi serves as Engineer and Producer.) Stern, who has been described by The New York Times’ Nate Chinen as “a guitarist and vocalist with an ethereal sensibility,” also plans a series of U.S. performances, following her recent series of international appearances with the legendary Salif Keita, including a set at the Festival on the Niger in Segou, the old capital of Mali. In January, Stern made a return performance at the famed Festival in the Desert in Essakane, Mali, and in March she performed in New Delhi and in Mumbai, India. Last month, she performed at Zankel Hall in NYC as a guest of Basekou Kouyate, Ami Sacko and N’goni Ba. U.S. Tour dates will be announced soon.

Read Neil Tesser’s Examiner.com four-star CD review of ‘Spirit’, here:

Read a rave CD review by Greg Burk’s MetalJazz, here

Stern’s acclaimed CD ‘Africa’ was described by ALLMUSIC as “one of the finest CDs of the…year, in any genre.” With a vocal style that has been compared to Rickie Lee Jones, Stern has wowed critics with her embrace of the many musical traditions the world has to offer – in fact, Stern recently had the honor of performing at the United Nations.

Stern’s live shows deliver an African/Global musical experience to an American audience. Jazziz Magazine has noted: “Though not an African native, the blonde, German-born, Berklee-trained jazz guitarist Leni Stern has become a windswept desert wanderer in heart and spirit. While recording her latest album, Africa (Leni Stern Recordings), she immersed herself in West African culture, living there for the better part of two years. From that rich experience, she created a collection of songs that are an aural history of her music lessons, and that were further drawn from passionate fireside debates and observations about a vast region of the world that is both elementally sacred and relentlessly plagued by political unrest.”

Stern’s stature as a Global Music artist has grown in the wake of both ‘Africa’ and ‘Spirit In The Water’, and her live performances have reflected the dynamic shift, both in terms of instrumentation and personnel. Critics embraced ‘Africa’ as “a significant new chapter in a career marked by bold changes.” With ‘Spirit In the Water’, Leni Stern’s world expanded to include South India, as her sound continues to evolve. More details about her full CD for 2010 will be announced soon.

For more on Leni Stern
Website: http://www.lenistern.com/home/index.html

Published in: on April 8, 2010 at 8:59 PM  Leave a Comment  

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