In my opinion, when performing covers of highly popular pieces, interpretation is one of the most powerful tools to help ensure success. Italian sax man Rocco Ventrella, hailing from Bari in southern Italy, injects his artistic character into Give Me the Groove in such a way as to clearly demonstrate that his interpretations are anything but the same ol’ hash offered by others with less insight.
This is Ventrella’s first full-length CD. Before this, he recorded a "mini-CD" dedicated to the late, great Grover Washington, Jr. If this project is any indication, we could be in for a fun ride for some time to come. Clearly, Ventrella is in touch with what works as he steps through these covers with confidence and insight.
Kicking it off in lively/funky fashion with one of everyone’s favorites "Soulful Strut," he follows with a slow, sultry, and clear sax-laden working of the Italian "Alleria." Very enticing and sweet indeed. In fact, it could be my favorite piece on the album, although he offers many others that warm the heart or stir the soul.
Ventrella’s sax is quite captivating and always well-placed. He’s accompanied on this project by the easy, gliding keys of fellow collaborator Renato Falaschi and session guitarist Bruce Nazarian. Already top shelf stuff, this is one of those CDs that just gets better as you rewind and replay. A really perceptive R&B/jazz venture that I can easily see becoming a staple in the field of covers. You don’t even have to listen to Ventrella’s version of "Feel Like Making Love," "On the Night," the classic "Winelight" or the funky sax and bass on "Sensuality" at track 8 to understand what you have here.
His personality and feel are evident in each and every undertaking. An album full of good ol’ "soothing" that’s great for whatever ails you (in my case, that would be the lack of quality work from many in the business today!). Remember the name Rocco Ventrella. I predict that you’ll see it again and again.