Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

John Trentacosta: KSFR Music Cafe

©Paul Slaughter

John Trentacosta started playing drums at age 11 as a kid in New York. By 14 his future was sealed when he sat in a school assembly and listened to a youth jazz band play Horace Silver’s “Silver’s Serenade.” The harmony just got to him. From that day on it has been all about jazz for John.

After receiving his formal music education, John was for two decades the rhythm force behind jazz greats such as Chuck Wayne, Jimmy Knepper and the Al Porcino big band. He also served as Assistant Arts Director for the Staten Island Chamber Music Players from 1978-1992.

Santa Fe worked its familiar magic on John during a short trip here in the early 1990s. By 1992 he was simultaneously a band director in the Santa Fe Public Schools and stirring up the jazz scene in New Mexico. In 1993 he formed the jazz group Straight Up. They have a  busy concert schedule and have released two CDs, “Live Jazz in the Desert” and “No Need For Words,” which won John a “MIC” award for best producer.

John has been a good friend to Santa Fe. When the 4th grade band  in our public schools was cut and the 5th grade band was next, John educated one and all on the importance of music to these youngsters. John knows. Hearing a band play one song when he was a kid  literally changed his life. Fourth grade band was reinstated.

Another of John’s gifts to the community is his six year tenure as part of the jazz team at Santa Fe Public Radio KSFR 101.1 FM which offers over 25 hours of jazz programming each week to lucky listeners. It’s a free masters degree in jazz.

KSFR programming is largely the work of top notch volunteers like John, but there are hefty expenses to stay on the air. The folks at KSFR decided the radio audience would enjoy the chance to hear some first rate jazz players play some “top shelf” music live and at the same time support the station. This brings me to KSFR’s Music Cafe Series.

The series started in March. Each past performance has been sold out. The next performance in the series will be held Thursday, August 23rd at the Museum Hill Cafe in Santa Fe, with 2 one hour sets starting at 7pm. John will play drums. Albuquerque’s John Maestas, “a young guy who plays like a seasoned musician,” will play guitar. JQ Whitcomb, a product of the band program of the Santa Fe public schools and an “accomplished player,” will be on trumpet. Last but not least, Andy Zadrozny, a long time musician who just settled here from Seattle, will move you with his bass. The jazz band will play standards written for American musical theater (think Berlin, Gershwin, Porter) as well as a few original tunes by John M. and JQ.

Call 505.428.1527 for tickets, which are $20. Contact John at straightupsf@earthlink.com or call 505.412.0765 or check out John’s website  at www.straightupjazz.com.

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