Rocco Ventrella

 

A native of the South of Italy, Rocco Ventrella grew up in Bari, in Puglia. Ventrella began playing saxophone at age fourteen, inspired by some jazz records his father had given to him and after one year of practice he decided to enroll himself in the local Conservatory to study the clarinet.

After studying at the Conservatory, Ventrella resumed his self-directed study of the saxophone, while participating in various jazz music clinics with famous musicians like David Liebman, Michael Brecker, Bob Mintzer, and Eric Marienthal.

Ventrella began to gathering experience playing in numerous jazz clubs with small jazz groups and at the same time he studied piano and operated a recording studio in Bari "Crescendo" and "Sorriso" (ex C&M) for a time.

From 1983 until 2005 Ventrella played in the Big Band "J.S.O." of Bari where he appeared with an impressive list of artists such as: Lee Konitz, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Benny Bailey, Chet Baker, Paolo Fresu, Enrico Rava, Tullio De Piscopo, Ernie Wilkins, Art Farmer, Maurizio Giammarco, Gianni Basso, Lee Konitz, Tony Scott, Dizzy Gillespie, G. Gaslini, D. Goykovic, Bob Mintzer and others.

Others collaborators included: Joy Garrison, Joanna Rimmer, Crystal White, Wendy Lewis, Orlando Johnson, Mike Francis.

In 1993 Ventrella moved to Boston where his friend Emilio Lyons "The Sax Doctor " introduced him to some of his own customers like R. Ford, G. Abate, F. Lipsius, R. Elliot, S. Rollins and others. "I feel extremely blessed to have worked with people I've admired for so many years", says Rocco of the experience at that time.

On his return to Italy in 1994, Ventrella's tune "Graša' s song" won the "Italian Homemix" competition, a collaboration of the European Musician magazine and Yamaha corporation.

In 1998 Ventrella began his love affair with smooth jazz music and began to record some promotional tracks to explore this new musical style. Most recently, Ventrella has recorded, arranged and produced the CD "Tribute to Grover Washington, Jr." in memory of the late, great saxophone player. The CD contains three tracks: "Winelight", "Let It Flow" and "Make Me A Memory". In addition, Ventrella has some new recordings featuring his own compositions, including the soulful and haunting "I Receive Your Love". Many of Rocco's compositions are receiving consistent airplay on Smooth Jazz outlets, especially on the internet, where smooth jazz netcasts are introducing his masterful playing to an entirely new audience segment.

Today, Ventrella's smooth soulful style is a benchmark for European smooth-jazz saxophone players.

Ventrella admits: "I like soul, rhythm and blues, funky and jazz. Dave Sanborn, Gerald Albright, Eric Marienthal, Everette Harp and the great Grover Washington, Jr. They have been my inspiration for the last ten years. But there are many great young saxophone players on the market."

We believe Rocco Ventrella to be a contemporary jazz artist of the new generation who is without equal! ~ bcn

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