Desert blues: Leni Stern
Playing the blues at the Festival in the Desert in Timbuktu, Mali, nine years ago was a transformative experience for guitarist Leni Stern, who plays on Tuesday, July 21, at 7:15 p.m., in a collaboration between the Santa Fe Bandstand summer concert series and the New Mexico Jazz Festival. Also life-changing were her collaborations with three of Mali’s music stars: Amy Sacko and her husband, Bassekou Kouyate, and Toumani Diabate. She learned to play the the African ancestor of the banjo, under Kouyate — and she was surprised to find that a lot of the old American blues riffs are easier to play on the ngoni than on the guitar. Stern has been touring for years now (sometimes also playing ngoni) with African musicians. She takes the Plaza stage for a free concert with Senegalese bassist Mamadou Ba (a veteran of work with Harry Belafonte and Archie Shepp), Nigerian drummer Kofo, and Senegalese percussionist Alioune Faye. Cal Haines’ Flora Purim Project opens. Check out www.santafebandstand. org and www.newmexicojazzfestival.org. — P.W.