REGGIE CODRINGTON BIO
Discerning urban jazz fans searching for something new to get jazzed and groove about don’t need to have A Vicarious Experience to make it happen—they just need to get hip to the melodic and cool old school soul meets contemporary funk of veteran saxophonist Reggie Codrington. While the Fayetteville, North Carolina native is new on many people’s radars, he’s actually been performing and recording since the early 90s and has eight previous CDs, several under the name Reggie C; the most recent of these are Sunny Days (2008), Vision of Dreams (2010), Christmas With Pops (2009) and Journey Back Home (2005), which was produced by Phil Davis, who has worked with Stanley Clarke, George Duke and Al Jarreau, among many others.
His latest project, which is produced by and features the tenacious bass playing of Brian Morgan (whose many credits include George Benson), A Vicarious Experience finds Codrington—whose primary voice is the curved soprano sax--in a romantic, optimistic mood, using the changing vibes of the songs (and the listener’s imagination) to chronicle the ups, downs, excitement and challenges of a romantic relationship from track to track. While many artists cite their parents as prime influences on their careers, Codrington takes that one step further, inviting his father Ray—who helped Codrington develop his skills and learn improvisation—to play trumpet throughout the recording.
“When I make a record, I always want to have a warm sound with harmonies,” he says, “and in this case that means having dad play a lot of horn parts and percussion. When we were making the album, I found myself in a 70s and 80s type groove, inspired by everyone from De La Soul funk rhythms to Sade and Parliament. I grew up listening to old school R&B/funk so that’s a pretty natural influence for me. The process began with Brian sending me some great tracks and me putting melodies to them, then arranging harmonies and atmospheres around my lead sax. The romantic story thread emerged from the emotions I was experiencing at the time with the lady I was dating. I thought it might be fun to invite people into my musical heart this way.”
Like a lot of veteran artists who have taken many recordings to break through, Codrington has survived his share of disappointments in the music industry, even as he’s made a living performing for many years. That commitment to overcoming obstacles stems from the difficulties in his childhood dealing with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy (ACP), a chronic condition that affects muscle coordination and depth perception. Receiving a curved soprano sax on his 18th birthday led to a major transformation, offering a comfortable way to play that he had not previously experienced. “Something magical happened, and I knew I had found my niche,” he says. “I fell in love.”
Codrington has been a staple in his hometown of Fayetteville for many years, enjoying regular gigs at many of the city’s high-end clubs and restaurants (including a seven year stint at The Hilltop House and four years at The Trio Café) and the Highland Country Club. In 2010, he performed in the city at an event called Stone Soul Picnic, opening for renowned urban sax great Kim Waters. Throughout his career, he has also opened for numerous legends, including Ramsey Lewis once in Charlotte, and he has played with keyboardist Kevin Tony at the Key Club in Los Angeles. Last year, he opened for Frankie Beverly and Maze and Charlie Wilson from The Gap Band. Codrington also played at the star studded Black Caucus in Washington, DC.
NOTABLE LIVE PERFORMANCES
National Prayer Breakfast - Fort Bragg, NC
John D. Fuller Center - Fayetteville, NC
Cagney's - Fayetteville, NC
Mercedes Benz - Fayetteville, NC
Ashby Menswear - Fayetteville, NC
Hilton Hotel - Raleigh, NC
Opening for Betty Wright - Fayetteville, NC
Opening for Peabo Bryson - Fayetteville, NC
Crown Center Ballroom - Fayetteville, NC
Codrington begins the romantic journey of A Vicarious Experience by recognizing the women he just met as a “Familiar Stranger”, an in the pocket funk driven gem featuring a stylish, whimsical sax melody. He conveys the cool excitement of “Getting To Know You” with a wistful melody (featuring horn doubling with his dad) and soulful, mid-tempo groove. The rhythm picks up with the help of a jangling rhythm guitar, bouncy bass and edgy synth percussion “En Route” to the couple’s first date, and they agree (via a moody and seductive, easy swaying flow) to enter a relationship that is “Consensual.” Codrington affirms the growing relationship with the slow-jamming easy funk rhythms and caressing atmospheres of “United We Stand”. A few cracks in the foundation and some growing pains inform the trippy synth percussion intro to “Divided Attention”, whose soaring soprano melody acts as a siren for potential hazards that can happen when life outside the relationship intervenes. They work things out by focusing with a “One Track Mind”, featuring Codrington’s sax and other horn textures rolling over edgy modern grooves. Affirming that it’s all systems go, “Back On Track” is a buoyant and infectious slice of dreamy danceable classic soul. Things end on such a high note (with a party like vibe and old school keyboard sounds surrounding the sax on “Happily Ever After”) that Codrington projects his love into eternity with a clapping groove and a wondrously optimistic spiritual declaration: “I’ll See You There.”
FROM THE BEGINNING
Reggie Codrington is the son of the nationally known musician and bandleader Ray Codrington, who played with numerous soul legends, including Little Richard, Gladys Knight and the late Jackie Wilson. The saxman fondly remembers his father’s band practicing in the family’s den, and his childhood was marked by dreams of making music. By age five, Codrington learned how to read music and the fundamentals of musicianship. But his ACP—which required nine intense surgeries before he was 13—delayed his ability to play the sax for many years. Those afflicted with the condition often have poor coordination and walk unsteadily with a wide based gait. The surgeries involved muscles being alternately cut and transferred from his elbow, wrist and right tricep to improve his finger dexterity. Other muscles were cut from his leg to offer more mobility and make it easier to walk.
Codrington discovered that music could transcend him to a place of tranquility and offer a way to escape from the stress of life with a disability. Immersing himself in his music, Reggie was encouraged to join his school band where he found acceptance from his peers. And the ridicule he once encountered from his schoolmates was replaced with respect for his talent as a musician. Receiving the curved soprano allowed him to use a neck strap for a more comfortable fit for his arm and allowed for more finger dexterity and coordination. Armed with his new instrument, Reggie continued his study of music at Howard University where he started to develop his own personal style and truly grow as a musician. Receiving accolades from professors and friends also lit a fire in his soul to keep perfecting his special gift.
His ultimate goal is to go on tour and share his music and his triumphant story of overcoming the physical challenges of being disabled. His vision is to tour the world talking to young people and sharing how he overcame a debilitating disability, ridicule in his youth, and unsavory independent labels as he traveled on his road to success in the contemporary jazz world.