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iTunes Review

Leni Stern's fusion of jazz and rock with African traditions reveals deep knowledge and commitment. Sabani finds her moving away from larger ensemble arrangements in favor of a more intimate trio setting, with the help of Mali-based players Haruna Samake and Mamadou Kone dit Prince. In these tracks, Stern achieves an effortless blend of subtly intoxicating rhythms and virtuosic instrumental work, unreeling elegant yet forceful lines on electric and acoustic guitar and n’goni ba (African lute). Her lyrics reveal a strong strain of mysticism that touches on tribal folklore (“Sorcerer”) and a universal desire for freedom (“Papillon”). “Like a Thief” is a particularly haunting invocation of love’s mysteries that adds a Celtic melodic element to the mix. Stern’s voice (hushed, husky, and oddly seductive) draws out the buried hurt within “Still Bleeding” and catches the cry of longing in “I Was Born (Ibe Keneya).” Soukou player Zoumana Tareta’s smoldering vocals add resonance to “Djanfa,” the ritual-like piece closing the album.

Customer Reviews

Leni's best yet.

The songs are poignant, the sound of the recording is rich and dynamic, Leni's voice and guitar are captivating.


This is an utterly powerful album by one of New York's luminaries. Leni Stern's warm vocals coupled with the the pure beauty of traditional African instruments entice the listener to voyage with the musicians as they demonstrate the magic of Africa's musical inheritance in the hand's a a genuine master songwriter.

The album is a narrative celebration of the soul's unyielding journey.

Leni Stern - Sabani

This is a beautiful record. The music has an earthy feel in the writing and instrumentation. Lenis uniques blend of world music is very inviting. Her soulful voice and playing really shine here. I would highly recommned this CD for all listeners. One of her very best!


Born: April 28, 1952 in Germany

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Leni Stern, who has received more recognition for her composing than her guitar playing, has managed to carve out her own musical personality despite being married to fellow guitarist Mike Stern (a potentially dominant influence). She began classical piano lessons when she was six, but was much more inspired a few years later when she discovered a guitar in the attic and taught herself to play jazz. Stern's early years were actually spent as an actress in her native Germany, featured on a national...
Full Bio
Sabani, Leni Stern
View in iTunes
  • $7.92
  • Genres: World, Music, Jazz
  • Released: Aug 16, 2011

Customer Ratings