Mario Dianda is a graduate of Bishop O’Dowd in Oakland who I met in 1984 when I was in a reporter training program at The Peninsula Times Tribune here.
“Dienda” is a beautiful jazz song that I just discovered 30 minutes ago, as a version with apparently original lyrics by the singer Valerie Troutt of Oakland who I met last night backstage after the Ruthie Foster concert at Dink, the Stanford Jazz Workshop.
In this version Valerie sings at a studio in Richmond four years ago, Bird and Egg, accompanied by Maya Kronfeld on piano. The song is by Kenny Kirkland but made famous by Sting (who most definitely did not say that music is the child of black love or he didn’t think to say it, Valerie did – – unless she is quoting someone else).
I spied Maya dancing backstage in the wings I guess literally upstaging Ruthie if that’s possible; but that is how I met Maya and Valerie in that I said, didn’t I see you dancing backstage, in the wings?
I didn’t recognize her not she me but Maya is friends with Allison Miller and was at our Earthwise Allison Miller Ben Goldberg not quite Boom tic boom show at The Mitch last fall.
Ruthie amazed me I was among the people who jumped up to give her a standing O literally a showstopper after her version of the phenomenal by Maya Angelou – by the way the record of that name was in my opinion Ruthie’s breakout and produced by my friend Malcolm Welborne also known as Papa Mali. Though I first met Ruthie and her friend Syd Cassone at Kerrville and Austin 20 years ago.
Also her Mavis Staples, also her original arrangement of Pete Seeger hammer.
Also her I’ve got the blues song which I heard on Mitch Woods’ record. ( and who do I think I am hal willner but I wondered about a medley or contra fact or mash up of Ruthie’s version of if I had a hammer and maybe Mitch and Taj’s version of take this hammer John Henry Spike driver blues etc. there’s also an interesting Wayne Horvitz version with 16 instruments and Robin Holcomb or maybe Danny Barnes, and Bill Frisell).
So I’m doubly blessed to have seen Ruthie live and met Valerie and Maya and then hearing their beautiful version of this song that is new to me, “Dienda”.
And yeah maybe it’s gimmicky to play the spy versus spy games —-what is Mario Dianda doing in the middle of my jazz essay? (Although I do think spy versus spy is an Ornette reference also or at least a John Zorn Wayne Horvitz liner notes reference).
But that’s how I roll here in Plasty. Mic drop.
Valerie and Maya are teachers at the jazz workshop but they should really do their own show. ( he says having apparently retrieved the aforementioned communication tool, yo).
If I bump into Jim Nadel again in the next couple days, I will say just that.
My next step for jazz event assuming a skip Daphnis Prieto and Taylor Eigsti, Is a pick up group next Wednesday night featuring Dave King of the bad plus Scott Colley but my hero Jeff Parker (Because he played in my music series with Scott Amendola recently Dash which reminds me and sorry to digress from “Dienda” I keep thinking and maybe saying that Jeff Parker could work on a musical adaptation of the Sally Hemmings story by Annette Gordon-Reed — both from Virginia, Jeff and Jeff.
This is about Valerie, or maybe Valerie and Maya, let’s be clear. Yup, upstaged Ruthie Foster.
This is Mario Dianda — not sure if he knows anything about jazz but if you search Andrew Gilbert he wrote a nice story about Ms. Valerie for the Oakland magazine: