PROSPECT — Vincent Ingala first began playing saxophone a decade ago. It didn’t take long for the Prospect native to see his name climb the Billboard Music Charts.
Ingala, 21, first started playing the playing the guitar and drums when he was 4 years old. In fifth grade, he was faced with a decision that would change his life.
“When you join band in fifth grade you have to pick either a woodwind or brass instrument. I picked sax because I was listening to Louis Prima, and he had a saxophonist named Sam Butera. I wanted to play sax just like him,” Ingala said.
Once he began playing the saxophone, Ingala didn’t put it down, carrying his love for music from middle school into high school.
By the time he was in high school, Ingala had started performing solo in local venues around the state. He would play and record all of his own background music before performing.
“Basically I was playing out in restaurants and clubs around Connecticut. I was hitting the scene hard all through high school,” Ingala said.
Ingala said after playing these gigs people would ask him if he had any CDs for sale.
“I had never really thought about putting out an album before,” Ingala said.
However, during his junior year of high school, Ingala began writing songs for what would become his first album.
While growing up Ingala listened to and was influenced by musicians like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley, and he tried to combine those influences into his own music.
“I encompass all my influences. I try to blend everything together and make it this overall sound,” Ingala said.
While his music is classified as smooth jazz, Ingala said, the category is much different than most people think.
“Smooth jazz doesn’t do it justice. It should be called instrumental R&B. There is really nothing jazz about it,” Ingala said.
In June 2010, when he was only 17, Ingala released his first album, “North End Soul.”
“From that point on, unbeknownst to me, smooth jazz radio stations across world began playing the album,” Ingala said.
Ingala said it wasn’t until he met his record promoter Jason Gorov of Gorov Music Marketing out of Nevada that he realized just how wide spread his music had become.
Ingala said other radio stations began picking up the album and one of the songs off the album, “It Is What It Is,” peaked at number 14 on the smooth jazz category of Billboard’s Music Charts.
“It came as a complete surprise and shock. I never thought it would happen,” Ingala said. “I thought I was releasing an album for local fans. It got taken to a national level.”
In March 2011 Ingala found himself traveling to San Diego, Calif., for his first non-local live show at a club called Anthology, which featured him and three other artists. A promoter for the Newport Beach Jazz Festival was in the audience for the show and offered him a spot in the festival, Ingala recalled.
Ingala took the promoter up on the offer, and in May 2011 was playing his first festival in Newport, R.I.
“It was fantastic,” Ingala said. “A lot of people I idolized growing up played that festival.”
The festival helped Ingala graduate from doing shows at restaurants and small clubs to larger venues. He soon after began performing at festivals across the west coast, primarily in southern California.
“I love Southern California. It seems to be where most of my fan base is,” Ingala said. “It’s very warm out there, and they have outdoor concerts throughout the year because it is beautiful outside.”
Although he has traveled throughout America, Ingala said that he will always come back to the east coast.
“I think in general I just love being on the east coast. It feels very homey to me,” Ingala said. “The west coast is great, a lot of great festivals, but when I am on the east coast I feel at home.”
In June 2012, Ingala released his second album, “Can’t Stop Now.”
“This album far exceeded expectations,” Ingala said.
The title track from the album peaked at number four in the smooth jazz category of Billboard’s Music Chart.
On Feb. 23, 2013 Ingala played with R&B and jazz greats Boney James, Mindi Abair, Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum and Spencer Day at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. The same day his song, “Wish I Was There,” reached number two in the smooth jazz category of Billboard’s Music Chart.
“It was just an unbelievable moment in my life,” Ingala said.
The song, which is about Ingala’s longing to be able to go out to the clubs during the time when disco and funk music were popular like his father did, would ultimately take the number one spot on March 10.
It is not just his singles that find their way onto the Billboard charts. Ingala himself was named the 2013 number one breakthrough artist of the year for smooth jazz.
Ingala, who still lives in Prospect, said he’s pleased with how the year turned out for him and all that he has accomplished.
“Overall I’m just very humbled. I don’t take anything for granted. I’m just very grateful,” Ingala said. “If it all ends here I would be 100 percent content. At the end of the day I just love music, I love having music in my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
However, it does not seem like it will end soon for Ingala, who is touring with Swedish keyboardist Jonathan Fritzen this year. He’ll also be performing solo at the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Despite having reached acclaim at such a young age, Ingala has his priorities in order.
“It’s all about the music. That’s my motto,” Ingala said.