Watch the African Influence online guitar lesson by Bruce Arnold from NYC Jazz Guitar Summit
Born in Munich, Germany, Leni started playing piano at the age of six and guitar at eleven. At seventeen, she formed her own acting company, and her radical productions sold out houses across Europe. In 1977, she turned her attention to music and left for the United States to study film scoring at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Scoring gave way to her love for guitar and in 1981, Leni moved to New York to play in a variety of rock and jazz bands. In 1983, she formed a group of her own with Paul Motion on drums and Bill Frisell on guitar. As a recording artist, she originally made a name for herself in jazz circles (her first nine albums were instrumental,) then crossed her talents over into the singer-songwriter realm, garnering consistent praise in the process. Critics have said her music incorporates “intelligent lyrics and beautifully drawn vignettes” (Washington Post), “crystalline, jazz-meets-blues guitar lines” (Guitar Player), and “thoughtful structure, evocative moods, attention to groove” (San Francisco Bay Guardian). A “Fleet and Lyrical guitarist”, (The New Yorker). “A Gifted Singer-Songwriter with a Wide-Ranging Sensibility and Sophisticated Guitar and Harmonic Chops” (The Boston Globe). Leni runs her own label, LSR/RED.
Leni's focus throughout this series is composing music with the guitar. A lot of times the main composer of a band is the keyboard player, but Leni discussing the finer points of using your guitar to compose. Concepts like composing with chords, point falling, changing keys, and contrary and oblique motion can all help breath new life into your composition process. At the end of the segment she performs the piece "Sandbox", accompanied by Bruce Arnold.