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Guitarist-vocalist Leni Stern – dubbed “a genre-defying adventurer” by Guitar Player magazine – has been on an evolutionary road over the past decade-plus, fusing her long-honed contemporary jazz sound with a deeply felt exploration of West African styles. The Munich-born New Yorker’s transatlantic journey has yielded a fresh, personal idiom, one where progressive virtuosity blends seamlessly with age-old folk traditions. Leni’s trio – featuring the kindred-spirit rhythm section of bassist Mamadou Ba and percussionist Alioune Faye, both natives of Senegal – released the albums 3 in 2018 and Jelell in 2013, along with figuring into the expansive cast of her Dakar Suite of 2016. Now the trio has become a quartet with the addition of Argentinean keyboardist Leo Genovese, a highly regarded talent on the New York scene as both a leader and as a collaborator with the likes of Esperanza Spalding and Jack DeJohnette. Leni’s new album – aptly titled 4 – showcases the crystalline guitar, West African rhythms and multilingual songs that listeners know from her recent releases, with Leo’s improvisational fire and hints of South American lyricism added to the mix. The album comprises five new compositions by Leni (including the beautiful, lullaby-like gem “Chartwell”), two by Leo (“Japalema” being an album highlight) and one by Mamadou (“Habib,” which includes a guest solo by Leni’s husband, fusion guitar hero Mike Stern). Brimming with joyous melody and groove, 4 could be Leni Stern’s most irresistible album yet.