Let’s get one thing straight right now—John Trentacosta is awesome. The longtime local drummer, public school music teacher, KSFR DJ and now college professor just gets it, Santa Fe. Y’see, as a studied and multi-faceted musician, Trentacosta has not only found success as a session musician and solo artist, but he has dedicated a rather large amount of his time to founding and facilitating fledgling non-profit Santa Fe Music Collective and providing instruction, entertainment and education to music lovers of all ages. It’s kind of like the guy loves jazz and rock so much that he has no choice but to share this love in a profoundly inclusive manner.
As we speak, Trentacosta is gearing up for the third session of his Santa Fe Community College class, History of Rock and Roll (Music 135; CRN #30763). He had already been in front of a classroom with the similar History of Jazz class, but this branching out of curriculum and addition of rock history goes a long way toward providing a more intensive experience and education.
Certainly jazz and rock music have deep roots in both blues and African American tradition/history, and Trentacosta's ability to delve into each area in a separate yet immersive way is huge.
But how does a very vocal proponent of jazz music wind up helming a rock n' roll class? "The music program at [SFCC] is kind of rolled up into the entire arts department, so encompassed within that is anything from visual art to welding etc.," Trentacosta says. "So when my department head approached me and said that my jazz class was popular and [sic] would I be able to teach a class on the history of rock, my first thought was, 'I'm not a rocker, I'm a jazz guy.' I mean, I grew up with rock and I've been drumming since I was 11 years old, but jazz was always my first love."
Once he decided to indeed teach the class, it became a matter of weaving more than just the stylistic and historical elements of the musicians themselves into a lesson plan. Trentacosta is a selfproclaimed "very political guy," it was important to examine the sociological aspects of the associated time periods and their cause and effect implications on the music itself.
"Rock is an art form, and like any other form, the things that are going on throughout the world inform the art," he says. "I realized that everybody has their own tastes and opinions, and if I was going to get them to buy in and contribute I'd have to find a way to make it all relatable to them on a more fundamental level."
As such, Trentacosta implements author Reebee Garofalo's 2011 book, Rockin' Out. It's a chronological overview of the historical goings on that ran parallel to musical milestones from the invention of the phonograph to the ever-changing landscape of a post-internet musical world.
According to Trentacosta, "The students have to put it all in a context they can relate to and through which they can put together multimedia presentations to the class…we had a guy in the History of Jazz class who traced the history of slavery and its impact on jazz music…it was incredibly wellresearched and fascinating."
Trentacosta himself is a talented musician best known for his work with local-ish jazz act Straight Up. It's his working knowledge of the nuts and bolts of music that provides a more in-depth view when it comes the highlights of rock. Should you need proof of Trentacosta's drumming or musical expertise, he's taking part in an upcoming perfor mance for the St. John's College Music on the Hill Elevated series alongside vocalist Kathy Kosins, pianist John Rangel and bassist Andy Zadrozny. All proceeds will benefit the school's scholarship fund.
In the meantime, think about taking the History of Rock class. Whether you're a know-it-all with a desire to test your knowledge or even just a vaguely interested party, this is one of the cooler ways to get that college experience.
HISTORY OF ROCK W/
Tuesdays, SF Community College, sfcc.edu
6401 Richards Ave.,
MUSIC ON THE HILL ELEVATED
7 pm Saturday, Jan. 25. $25
St. John's College
1160 Camino De Cruz Blanca,
Santa Fe Reporter