Two bands with musical roots in West Africa share the Ashkenaz stage in a night of exciting tradition and new directions. Malima Kone comes from Burkina Faso (adjacent to Mali), and jazz-guitarist Leni Stern’s band comes from Senegal, while her latest music is tied to Mali.
Singer and multi-instrumentalist Malima Kone has taken his family’s centuries-old heritage to the world, updating it with his own style that includes traditional African roots and acoustic reggae. Malima Kone sings in five languages – Bwamu, Bamana/Jula, Moore, French, and English – and bases his lyrics on life experiences from childhood and as he sees the world today. He sings of orphans, children of the street, family, freedom, poverty, justice, world peace, and love.
Born in 1984, Malima Kone was surrounded by the music and history of the Kone family, and by the age of 3 was beginning to learn to play the 21-stringed harp, the kora. It is the accompanying instrument of the jeli, the family and village historian who sings the centuries-long story and culture, the song and dance of his people. At age 12, Malima joined the youth ensemble Maison des Jeunes du Burkina that toured throughout Africa and Europe. He was writing his own songs by the time he followed other siblings to America in 2002, settling in Santa Cruz. He and sister Mandjou taught music and dance at UC Santa Cruz, the University of Oregon, UC Berkeley, and UCLA. Malima began his solo music career in 2006. He then created an acoustic reggae group called Reggafrique in Santa Cruz, currently performing throughout California. He continues to travel back home to his roots in Africa, finding inspiration while visiting family and friends. He is working on his first album.
Leni Stern’s African Trio features her on electric guitar, voice, and n’goni (Malian lute), with electric bassist Mamadou Ba and Alioune Fave on djembe (drum), sabar, and backing vocals. The band plays an array of music that includes her compositions from the 2012 CD “Smoke, No Fire.” The album was recorded in Mali’s capital, Bamako, and its music reflects the time and political upheaval Mali is undergoing, from relaxed start to tense completion of recording. Stern’s music has always been filled with an exciting sense of discovery, a feeling that the next solo will take her and listeners into unexplored territory.
Born in Germany, Stern came to the U.S. to study at Berklee College of Music, then moved to her current home in New York and embarked on an international career. She has collaborated with an array of world musicians, from former Miles Davis guitarist Mike Stern (her husband) to Bill Frisell, Salif Keita, and current jazz star Esperanza Spalding. In recent years her interaction with African musicians has led to wider acclaim; she recently completed an American tour with the Acoustic Africa 3. She has also won the Gibson Guitar Female Guitarist award five consecutive years. According to the Washington Post, “Stern doesn’t collaborate with the West Africans so much as commune with them; she never sounds out of her element, even when her pop and jazz sensibilities are most apparent.”
When & Where
Ashkenaz is the East Bay's home to world music & dance... established 1973; nonprofit since 1997. We are always all ages! Kids 12 & under are admitted free unless otherwise noted.
All of our online ticket sales are will call. We will have a list of ticket buyers at the door; you do not need to bring a printout of your ticket/order confirmation.
Doors open 30 minutes before showtime, or 30 minutes before the dance lesson if there is one, unless otherwise noted.
Ashkenaz's Café opens when doors open and offers beer (draft and bottled), wine, kombucha, juices, sodas, coffee and tea, and snacks and light meals (all vegetarian, mostly organic).