Rocco Ventrella grew up in Bari in the southern part of Italy. After music Conservatory, Rocco participated in various clinics with famous jazz musicians like David Liebman, Michael Brecker and Bob Mintzer. In addition, he began to play in small jazz groups appearing in numerous jazz clubs and at the same time started to study piano and began to work in the studios "Crescendo" and "Sorriso" (ex C&M) of Bari. Since 1983, Rocco plays in the Big Band J.S.O. of P. Lepore of Bari where he has appeared with an impressive and long list of world renowned jazz artists. By 1998, Rocco began to love Smooth Jazz music, with the latest fruit of this love being the promotional CD Tribute to Grover Washington, Jr., a great tribute to one of his idols.
Rocco was kind enough to send me a copy of this CD containing three of Grover's most beloved and classic compositions: "Winelight", "Let It Flow" and "Make Me A Memory," which all were originally recorded back in 1980 on Grover Washington, Jr.'s Winelight album. Winelight is a record which definitely has touched the hearts of many smooth jazz lovers around the world. Rocco Ventrella gives the songs a new twist with updated contemporary grooves but still manages to retain the spirit of the original. In the beginning he reluctantly and respectfully approaches the songs but increasingly starts to bring his personality and improvisation to the mix, generating quite a bit of heat before the songs are gracefully brought to an end. Rocco Ventrella is joined by fellow musicians Vito Di Modugno on bass, Alex Milella on guitar, Gino Palmisano on keyboards and Saverio Petruzzellis on drums.
I am looking forward to hearing more from this ongoing project in the future. All of these songs have been added to the playlist of SwissGroove.ch and they definitely are radio friendly, groovy, spirited and do justice to Grover's legacy. Rocco Ventrella is a great sax player and a nice person to boot so let's hope that more finished work will be available soon so the world can hear this music.
Visit Rocco Ventrella's website.