News Column

Star on the rise

July 19, 2013

YellowBrix

July 19--Vincent Ingala was kicking back by his aunt's pool. In Prospect, Conn.

He was pondering an imminent trip to the warmer California sun as his fast-moving jazz career keeps rising.

"Time's flying, you know," said the saxophone player, multi-instrumentalist and self-recording musician.

He's 20.

Ingala recorded his first album during his senior year in high school. He's already performed with Dave Koz, a guru of smooth-jazz saxophone playing, among others.

"I don't think we really ever know when any day comes along what's gonna happen," said Ingala, a quick and animated conversationalist. "If people are willing to have live music, I'll keep touring.

"I love music. I love meeting new fans. It all comes down to making people happy through music. No matter what the state of things is, music brings us all together."

That's Ingala's goal Sunday when he performs at Stockton's University Plaza Waterfront Hotel. It's his first Northern California solo concert. Sacramento's Cecil Ramirez Group, led by the pianist and composer, joins him.

Though he's in the "experimental, early stage" of a third recording, Ingala's still proud of what he did in 2012.

That would be "Can't Stop Now," a CD on which he played all the instruments, wrote seven of the songs and recorded everything at home in northern Connecticut.

Two songs made the top 5 on Billboard Magazine's contemporary jazz chart. "Wish I Was There" spent four weeks at No. 1.

"I'm still kinda ridin' (that) album," he said recently from Prospect, where he was working on his tan just down the street from home. "It's just incredible. When it was released, at first I never expected anything would happen. I'm very blessed and fortunate."

Multi-tasking and -talented, too. On the album, he played soprano saxophone, guitar and all other instruments while handling the computer programming,

"It was just fun to take a different journey," said Ingala, whose first album ("North End Soul") was released in 2010. "It broke nicely and gave it some variety, so it's not too monotonous. It slices it up and gives it a little versatility."

Ingala's musical influences are interestingly old-school.

Born in Prospect, he was an only child whose father, Leo, "never played instruments" but was a disco/R&B DJ "back in the day. Dance-oriented, old-school disco classics."

His mom, Dawn, who managed a decorating franchise, and dad "shared a love of music," Ingala said. "They always had music someplace in the house."

When he was 4, they "got tired of me banging on pots and pans in the kitchen," he said. "They got me a baby kit and I beat the hell out of it."

Ingala's grandmother augmented that with a "baby guitar," and he "stole" a cousin's keyboard: "Basically, it was a domino effect."

In the fifth grade, Ingala had to choose between brass and woodwinds. He'd seen Louis Prima singing "Oh Marie" on TV, with Sam Butera accompanying him on tenor saxophone.

"That changed everything," Ingala said, though a fifth-grader lacked the physique and lung power to play tenor sax. "Alto was a perfect fit for a teen." He did try, but was unable to "imitate a tenor through an alto."

During his freshman year at Holy Cross High School, "dad rented a tenor sax and set it up in the kitchen," Ingala said. "He set it up. I blew four or five notes and said, 'This is it. This is the sound I'm looking for.' The rest is history."

Transfixed by Elvis Presley, he'd dress up and "do his moves" as a child, "emulating him in front of the TV." He also was impressed by the Beatles and a group led by two uncles who lip-synched to 1950s doo-wop songs and had a "big following" in Waterbury.

Then it was Ingala's turn. As a teenager, he put together a show, playing rock guitar and jazz, singing, dancing and "doing all three things in greater Waterbury (venues) with a big local following," he said. "I'd have a blast every weekend."

At 16, he opened Koz's Christmas show at Waterbury's Palace Theatre: "We had a nice conversation and kick-started a little bit of a friendship."

Ingala "always" had been writing, so he recorded "North End Soul" in his four-track home studio. Since then, he's eased into the computer recording age.

In March 2011, he made his solo debut at San Diego's since-closed Anthology club, where he and Koz "miraculously re-connected," leading to Ingala's inclusion on Koz's 2011 Alaska cruise. This summer, he's touring with Marion Meadows and Paul Taylor as Sax in the City.

Ingala's "large Italian" family -- dad's one of five brothers -- stays close. Mom is his manager and dad makes it to as many gigs as possible.

"She does an absolutely fantastic job," Ingala said. "Since Day 1. We're a great team and quality reassurance is constantly there. She's easiest to yell at because she's my mother."

Gracious and appreciative, as any professional entertainer -- even a 20-year-old -- should be, Ingala takes care of business:

"I'm always appreciative of the fans. Without them, I'd never be able to perform. It's all about never losing sight of it. I'm very excited because I've never been to Northern California. I'm very excited to meet new fans."

Contact reporter Tony Sauro at (209) 546-8267 or tsauro@recordnet.com.

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(c)2013 The Record (Stockton, Calif.)

Visit The Record (Stockton, Calif.) at www.recordnet.com

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