Shane Theriot's Podcast with Leni by Leni Stern



"My guest today is guitarist, vocalist and composer Leni Stern. Leni is someone I consider to be a good friend, as we’ve known each other for 16 years.  She’s one of the most inspiring musicians I happen to know and- her contagious laugh and positive energy is something I never get tired of being around. Although she is married to guitarist Mike Stern (check out my 4th podcast)- Leni has her own distinctive voice on the guitar and an unmistakable touch and tone. She has won the Gibson Guitar  Best Female jazz guitarist award 5 years straight and has continued to push forward with each of her records and bands. 

In the interview you’ll hear how she left a successful career in her native city of Munich, Germany to come to the US and slowly build her reputation as one of New York City's finest. Now, some 20 plus records later, she talks about her new record, (Darkar Suite) what it was like studying and being in a band with Bill Frisell, the difficulties and advantages of being a female guitarist in a male dominated world, what it’s like being married to one of the most famous jazz guitarists in the world- Mike Stern, how she composes melodies etc…. and we play some ngoni and guitar duos too… Click here for Leni's Website"

Jazzmandu! by Leni Stern

I just returned from an incredible week in Kathmandu, Nepal playing at the 2015 Jazzmandu Festival. I met many wonderful musicians and bands from around the world! The resolve and spirit of the Nepalese people following such a great tragedy was inspiring to say the least.

Back from (Victor) Wooten Woods by Leni Stern

I spent last week at the Wooten Woods camp in Tennessee, an hour outside of Nashville. It is the creation of #VictorWooten, the amazing #bassist.

Mike and I had a fantastic time!! We were way off the beaten path in the woods, by a large stream, teaching 28 young musicians from all over the world.

We had wing shun kung fu classes by a student of It man !!!! and nature classes where the students learned to identify tracks and bugs ( like the one that crawled up my pants when i was teaching!!!!!!!!!!!!) and snakes ( water mocassins and rattlesnakes - ayayayayayay)

There was a huge organic vegetable garden out back and meals were cooked by an awesome chef with fresh produce from there.

The best thing was, that by the time we got to the camp, all the students had been infected with the irresistable Wooten groove…and young boys from Pakistan to Sweden were grooving like hell!!

Senegal, rehearsal, performance and recording by Leni Stern

I’m finally in St Louis, Senegal, the site of the jazz festival where we are playing.  A prehistoric bus met us in Dakar to take all of our equipment to St Louis.  Actually, it was supposed to take us as well, but I hired was too adventurous even for my taste!

The rehearsals have been amazing!  My jaw keeps dropping whenever the Faye brothers play.  In all my time in africa I have never heard anything like it.  Alioune has composed a series of drum calls to go with the new songs. The Faye brothers are so soft-spoken and sweet... until they get behind the drums, then all hell breaks loose.

The audience yesterday loved our rendition of traditional Senegalese songs, and they all sang along. We played on a boat that was anchored in front of the large venue. The river Senegal has some waves, and I was scared to slip into the water with my amp and pedals. Today, thank god, they moved the stage to land and set VIP sofas up on the boat.

The whole band only speaks Wollof now and I hobble along. It’s actually helpful with the Wollof lyrics I am singing.  My accent gets better and better, and everybody is terribly amused by it!


"And my wife, Leni, happened to be in the studio and we asked her to improvise on the spot a couple of preludes to songs, with her doing vocals and playing the ngoni. I don’t know how she does it with the n'goni—I’m still into trying to figure out how to play the same old blues licks on guitar. We were thinking of doing short vignettes in between some of the songs, but what Leni did was perfect."

- Mike Stern - in the FEB/2015 DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE article SIX STRING SUMMIT, about recording his new record, Eclectic with Eric Johnson.

Leni at APAP 2015 - NYC by Leni Stern

Friday, January 9th 11pm
Why Not Jazz Room
14 Christopher Street

Saturday, January 10th 10pm
300 W 116th Street

Sunday, January 11th 9pm
62 Ave C

Monday, January 12th 6pm
Rockwood Music Hall
196 Allen Street

Monday, January 13th 10pm
The 55 Bar
55 Christopher Street


N'goni report from Mali: July 22, 2014 by Leni Stern

I can't believe how lucky I am!!!

I arrived in Bamako last night and went straight to Bassekou and Ami's house in the Bankoni district of Bamako. Haidera the great immam, fixed up all the roads, so unlike last year, the rainy season storms had not washed out the way up the hill.

Bassekou showed me 3 new scales on his 4-string n'gonis. He says they are the old way of playing like his father used to do...songs from the 17th century when Mali was a thriving kingdom. I recorded three new songs. His mother Yagare was in great spirits and started singing, like she used to with Bassekou's father. I heard the beginnings of the blues right there in Bassekou's courtyard.

I am still mystified about the tunings. Bassekou's father played the n'goni ba that's hanging in the living room. It has 5 strings and is tuned a minor third below the 4 string jelly n'goni. I had my tuner with me last night in an attempt to get to the bottom of the tuning mystery. From what I know today it is best to look at it like our altered tunings, there's one for every song. Boy am I glad that I don't have to pull the leather frets up and down since I installed fender tuners on my n'gonis.

Ami had prepared a big fried fish with noodles, american style. Men and women ate separately, on two sides of the courtyard with the tree in the middle. I loved being surrounded by all the children and their two new little cats... no mice in this house! I was very happy that I succeeded in convincing Ami that the danger from mice and rats around all these little kids was far greater than the evil spirits that could pose as cats, as people here believe.