13 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

The bewitching grooves of singer/guitarist Leni Stern’s Sa Belle Belle Ba brilliantly fuse Western and African musical idioms. Building upon the breakthroughs on her acclaimed 2007 release Africa, Stern once again taps into the rich culture of Mali in tandem with such master musicians as oud player Brahim Fribgane and vocalist Ami Sacko. Sweltering rhythms and incantatory lyrics give “Babakar,” “Smoke’s Risin’” and “Born Bad” an otherworldly power. Echoes of American funk and blues can be heard in the serpentine flow of “Nan Jeya” and the title track. The caressing, lullaby-like “Sera” and the string-draped ballad “Now I Close My Heart” work equally well in a softer strain. Stern’s acoustic and electric-guitar work displays their trademark precision and grace on the slow-boiling “Souma Chamon,” among other numbers. From the chant-like “Madoumba” to the Middle Eastern-accented “Yakhal Bi Khali,” Stern and her collaborators embrace a wide swath of sonic terrain. The spell-casting “Namu” makes the mystical content of the album’s songs clear.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The bewitching grooves of singer/guitarist Leni Stern’s Sa Belle Belle Ba brilliantly fuse Western and African musical idioms. Building upon the breakthroughs on her acclaimed 2007 release Africa, Stern once again taps into the rich culture of Mali in tandem with such master musicians as oud player Brahim Fribgane and vocalist Ami Sacko. Sweltering rhythms and incantatory lyrics give “Babakar,” “Smoke’s Risin’” and “Born Bad” an otherworldly power. Echoes of American funk and blues can be heard in the serpentine flow of “Nan Jeya” and the title track. The caressing, lullaby-like “Sera” and the string-draped ballad “Now I Close My Heart” work equally well in a softer strain. Stern’s acoustic and electric-guitar work displays their trademark precision and grace on the slow-boiling “Souma Chamon,” among other numbers. From the chant-like “Madoumba” to the Middle Eastern-accented “Yakhal Bi Khali,” Stern and her collaborators embrace a wide swath of sonic terrain. The spell-casting “Namu” makes the mystical content of the album’s songs clear.

TITLE TIME
4:36
5:41
5:05
3:54
6:17
4:21
3:59
4:53
4:08
5:11
4:07
3:56
5:53

About Leni Stern

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 television show. However, she took a summer off in 1977 to enroll at Berklee, and she never returned to acting. Stern lived in Boston until 1980, moved to New York, and has worked steadily in clubs ever since, recording for Passport (now defunct), Enja, and Lipstick. Primarily an instrumentalist in the past, with 1997's Black Guitar she revealed her prowess as a vocalist, and began releasing a series of albums that mixed jazz, pop, and rock on her own LSR imprint, including Kindness of Strangers (2000), Finally the Rain Has Come (2002), When Evening Falls (2004), and Love Comes Quietly (2006). ~ Scott Yanow

  • ORIGIN
    Germany
  • BORN
    Apr 28, 1952

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