Jazz Weekly Review / by Leni Stern

Leni Stern: Jelell

Guitarist Leni Stern continues her foray into mixing jazz and African sounds on this excellent session of originals. She teams up with Mamadou Ba/b and Alioiune Faye/perc as the core foundation, but various percussionists, vocalists and keyboardists pop in like cameo actors in a Shakespeare play. Lithe guitar licks form melodies and rhythms that meld with the enticing percussion on pieces such as “Babacar” and “Bubbles” and a mix of vocals ranging from African chants to American rap contribute to material like “Gnate Yone” and “Jelell.” Through it all, Stern’s use of guitar has an loose and earthy touch, making her one of the few Westerners who has mastered the dancing guitars that permeate sounds ranging from Mali to Malawi. Excellent outing. - George W. Harris