By MICHAEL HIXON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Saxophonist Vincent Ingala hasn’t even reached his 21st birthday, but he already has released two hit albums and a No. 1 single on the Billboard charts, while performing with some of the top jazz musicians in the country.
“There’s nothing wrong with starting early, gaining that experience,” says Ingala, during a recent gig at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, Calif. “It only makes you a better musician down the road.”
Ingala, who recently toured with Marion Meadows and Paul Taylor for their Sax in the City Tour, is still on the road. He will join the Dave Koz & Friends Mediterranean cruise beginning Sept. 22. Then he will performing at the Catalina Island Jazz Trax Festival on Oct. 4, followed by shows in Denver on Oct. 11, back to Catalina on Oct. 12 and onto Chicago on Oct. 26.
Ingala’s second album “Can’t Stop Now,” which includes seven original compositions, was released in 2012. Two songs from the album made the top five on the Billboard charts with the title song reaching No. 1 for four weeks. The title song is a tribute to the young musician’s father, who was a DJ during the disco era.
“It does have a special meaning to me,” Ingala says. “The song was successful, but it has an important meaning behind it. He used to tell me what it was like to go out dancing back in the disco era. Sometimes I wish I was there to experience it. I was born in the wrong era, so to speak.”
Ingala, who also sings, seems to be born with an affinity for instruments. Surprisingly, the saxophone wasn’t his first instrument of choice. His parents bought him his first drum kit when he was four, and drums are still his favorite instrument. He also leaned to play the guitar at a very young age.
“My mother got tired of me banging away on the pots and pans so they had to buy me a baby drum kit,” Ingala recalls. “Then I moved on to the guitar. My grandmother bought me a guitar when I was four or five years old. My father, who played in high school, got me started, taught me a few little chords. Then I stole my cousin’s keyboard one day and taught myself that, but the sax came last. In the fifth grade, we had to pick an instrument to play and it couldn’t be drums or the guitar. It had to be a wood or brass instrument (so) I picked the sax. I was listening to a lot of Louis Prima at the time and Sam Butera … it was absolutely incredible. He’s still one of my favorites. That was the main inspiration at the time.”
Specifically, Ingala was attracted to the tenor sax.
“It’s a very expressive instrument,” he says. “It’s like the human voice. I play very melodically, like I’m a singer, so it’s almost like it’s taking the place of a human voice. It was an instrument that was able to easily find my voice on. This is what I wanted to say as an artist. I can still get the point across on the guitar, but it’s a very personal thing to me. I feel that connection very strongly.”
“North End Soul,” Ingala’s first album, was released when he was 17. The title was derived from a neighborhood in his hometown of Waterbury, Conn. After the huge success of “Can’t Stop Now,” Ingala is currently working on his next album as he approaches his 21st birthday in December. For now, he is enjoying his time on the road.
“I love traveling and meeting people, making music,” he says. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s just amazing.”
For more information on Ingala, visit www.vincentingala.com.