Stern developed and demonstrated her own vocabulary on the guitar while also building a distinctive body of work as a composer. Her first album as a leader 1986's excellent Claivoyant with Paul Motian, Harrie Swartz and Bill Frisell.
Stern recorded on several labels , Enja. Lipstick and Alchemy with a series of strong albums. In 1997 she formed her own recording company releasing Black Guitar, which featured a new found emphasis on vocals in the context of her own evocative writing. Leni's guitar playing on Black Guitar is strictly in service of the song on this vocal project, though she does resurrect one of her finest instrumental compositions, "Sandbox" a tune also once recorded by her husband Mike Stern , She offers a pungent Solo on the moody "So good for You" and stretches on the instrumental closer, "Silverline", a dynamic showcase for Dennis Chamber's awesome drums.