Born: January 23, 1961 Primary Instrument: Saxophone
One can only smile and enjoy when hearing the music of Rocco Ventrella. The joy of his music that exudes from his soul is undeniable. His passion for smooth jazz is so obvious with every note he plays.
With Give Me The Groove CD, released on February 2007, Ventrella has been Pre-Nominated Grammy Award Contemporary Jazz Best Album 2007.
Ventrella, began playing saxophone in his hometown of Bari, Italy at age ten. As a young boy, he remembers when his father, a lover of jazz music, gave to him an album of Duke Ellington and Ventrella was captured by the sound of the sax of Johnny Hodge and a love was born.
Ventrella was trained jazzly, but switched to the clarinet at age 15 enrolling himself at Conservatory of Music of Bari and abandoning the sax for seven years. In this time Ventrella has had an interesting experience playing classical music with the local Symphonic Orchestra and playing with great artists like Luciano Pavarotti, Josè Carreras, Placido Domingo, Katia Ricciarelli and more. During this time Ventrella had nostalgia of the saxophone, the love for the sax was so intense. The clarinet wasn't quite expressive enough for me, he says. I really connected more with jazz and funk. So I picked up the saxophone changing my style immediately.
Ventrella begins performing in alot of jazz clubs of his city and out of the city and played for over 25 years in a local jazz big band where famous artists have been guests such as Lee Konitz, Art Farmer, Dizzy Gillespie, Ernie Wilkins, Tony Scott, Chet Baker, Eddie Lockiaw Davis, Bob Mintzer and more. I always loved American music and the people, he says. After performing in over 20 different countries and playing for hundreds of others records artists for many years, Ventrella discovered the great saxophone player Grover Washington, Jr. in the mid-90s. Ventrella was captivated by the sound and the groove of Grover and for this reason Grover remains his “virtual” teacher to this day. Ventrella recorded, arranged and produced the Tribute To Grover Washington, Jr. CD in memory of the late, great saxophone player in 2005. This remarkable recording originally contained just five tracks: Winelight, Let It Flow, Make Me a Memory, Mr. Grover(original by Ventrella) and Come Morning. However, it was “Winelight” that made Rocco a household name on Smooth Jazz stations across the Internet. Winelight was selected by Sky.fm as one of The Best Of 2005, along with other 14 tracks.
Ventrella continued to create new recordings featuring his own compositions, including the soulful and haunting I Receive Your Love. The “Tribute To Grover” and I Receive Your Love CDs brought Ventrella to the attention of American producer Bruce Nazarian (he played the synclavier on the Giving you the best that I got Anita Baker's CD, Millie Scott, The Automatix), and an international alliance was born. With Give Me The Groove CD, produced by Bruce Nazarian, Ventrella received a Pre-Grammy Awards Nomination Best Contemporary Jazz Album 2007 and scored Top 20 smooth jazz radio stations with 5 tracks of the CD: Soulful Strut, Winelight, Alleria, On The Night and Give Me The Groove. Also Ventrella has gotten quotes from George Duke, Everette Harp, Dave Koz, Marion Meadows and more.
Ventrella's first official gig in the U.S. has been in Augusta, GA. where him was invited to playing at James Brown Festival 2006 that headlined James Brown. In the summer 2008, Ventrella was invited as guest on Peter White's show at 1° Annual Smooth Jazz Festival, Bregenz(Austria).
2009's Where Were You his first single Ventrella recorded for the RV Music indie label and in the 2010's Secret Agent his second single for the same label.
In the May 2011 Ventrella has been invited to play with the jazz/funk supremo Brian Culbertson at Smooth Jazz In The Cube, Biberwier-Lermoos, Austria. His playing captured the attention of the guitarist Nils and the saxophonist Jackiem Joyner which have asked to him to play a few song in their set. The Nick Colionne's show finished with a long jam all together.
Awards:Pre-Nomination Grammy Award Contemporary Jazz Best Album 2007.
Tribute To Grover Washington, Jr.
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Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
January 2008 Clinic at Berklee College of Boston, MA. September 2008 Clinic at "Mousikè" - Martina Franca(IT) w/Spajazzy Band
Yamaha YSS61 Soprano sax - Beechler rubber #7