Leni Stern:3 with Mamadou Ba and Alioune Faye
Traditionally, the most percussion-rich jazz music has been that infused with Caribbean and Latin influences. Guitarist Leni Stern has been studying West Africa as an alternate source of percussion driven music ever since having made the acquaintance of Massekou Kouyate and his wife Ami Sacko at the Festival au Desert in Timbuktu, Mali almost 15 years ago. That meeting led to Stern's swan dive into the culture, language, and music of West Africa and the intervening years of study have led to 3 with Mamadou Ba and Alione Faye. While Stern is the ostensible leader of this date, the recording is very much rooted in the percussion of Alioune Faye. To be sure, there is American (or better German-American) jazz here, but it is woven deeply into to the fecund rhythms of West Africa, her two musical partners coming from Senegal. Stern plays with a graceful restraint that augments and enhances the percussive elements of the performance. Integral to this percussive approach is the rhythmic anchor provided by bassist Mamadou Ba, whose Sympatico with Stern is palpable throughout. Stern's singing offers an interesting seasoning to the project, both in English and Senegalese. This recording is something larger than mere "World Music." It has a savory depth that is purely spiritual.