Leni Stern, “Khavare” By Nate Chinen. 4.30.2018
Guitarist and vocalist Leni Stern has already made a personal study of West African folk music, on albums like Africa and Dakar Suite. Her latest is titled 3 – a declaration of faith in the bond she has with bassist Mamadou Ba and percussionist Alioune Faye. But the album, just out on LSR Recordings, lays out all the proof you need.
Its opening track, “Khavare” (“Party”), incorporates a cooled-out melody against a Senegalese mbalax rhythm. Stern plays a brief solo, unhurried and clear, without overshadowing the cadence of Faye’s sabar drum. Elsewhere on the album, there are tracks that feature Stern’s vocals front and center. But here we get a simple distillation of the trio’s rapport, honed by and large at the 55 Bar in Greenwich Village — where they’ll play an album-release show next Tuesday, May 8.