DRUMMER MAN TAKES CENTER STAGE
John Trentacosta is thrilled to sit behind the drums and bring you the music of Gene Krupa. But he’s not looking to steal the show with a crazy solo as Krupa might have done in his prime.
“I’m not that kind of a guy,” says Trentacosta, who will lead a group of musicians in playing portions of the seminal Krupa album Drummer Man at the Art + Sol festival on Friday, Feb 17, at SITE Santa Fe. “I’m not going to be throwing my sticks in the air or anything like that. It’s purely about the music.”
Trentacosta, the president and founding director of the Santa Fe Music Collective, first saw Krupa play live when he was a youngster in Manhattan. He says that he would stand outside the Metropole Cafe, and he could see Krupa’s band playing in the bar.
“It was just jaw-dropping,” he says, decades later.
“The bar had glass doors, and the band played on top of the bar. You could stand outside and hear the music and watch the band.”
Trentacosta first tried to pull off playing the Drummer Man album with a group of musicians a decade ago at the Santa Fe Playhouse, but that was just a five-piece band. This time around, Trentacosta has arranged a nine-piece band plus a vocalist to approximate Krupa’s big band.
Still, even a nine-piece band is a little stripped down.
Trentacosta says Krupa frequently played with a 16-piece band, and the 1956 album had arrangements done by jazz legend Quincy Jones.
Now those same arrangements are going to be played for a Santa Fe audience.
Trentacosta says when he first started prepping to play Drummer Man about a decade ago, he was filled with appreciation for Krupa.
“I worked so hard,” he says. “After the show, I said, ‘If I had worked this hard when I was young I may have had a real career.’ I already loved Gene before, but I had gone on to more modern jazz drummers. When I went back, I realized what a giant he was.”
Julie Christensen will be playing the role of Anita O’day at the Art + Sol event, and J.Q. Whitcomb will get to play the part of trumpet player Roy Eldridge.
But the star of the set will be the man behind the initialed drum set; after all, the album is called Drummer Man for a reason.
“When he worked with Bennie Goodman, Bennie brought him out front and the drums became a popular instrument,” Trentacosta says of Krupa. “Part of the reason is that Gene was a good-looking guy, and he was very animated in the way he played. And he was a truly great drummer.”
7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, SITE Santa Fe, 1606 Paseo de Peralta, $30-$35, 505-946-7934, santafemusiccollective.org